10 Things You Will Love to Know About Jackdaws


Found across the European continent, North Africa, and western Asia, the jackdaw is a passerine bird that is part of the crow family.

Although many are residential birds, meaning they stay in the same area the year-round, some do migrate south for the winter.

What follows are 10 things that you would love to know about the remarkable jackdaw. I think you will surely love reading them…

Q.1 How are Jackdaws Different than Crows?

Although they are members of the crow family, they represent the smallest number of these birds.

Just like crows, jackdaws are found in rural, suburban, and urban areas thanks to their remarkable adapting skills.

You can tell a jackdaw from other members of the crow family thanks to their pale white iris and nape which is light grey in color and stands out from the black feathers.

Another big difference is the size. Jackdaws are significantly smaller compared to carrion crows.

But perhaps the most noticeable difference is that carrion crows prefer to live alone or in pairs. While jackdaws tend to live in larger groups.

Q.2 Are Jackdaws Solitary or do They Live in Groups?

Jackdaws live in groups. In fact, if there is an ample source of food, they will live together in large colonies.

Their numbers provide protection against predators, but it is mostly due to the sources of food that are available.

Jackdaws will also group with other birds such as carrion crows and rooks.

Finding a source of food will often cause a jackdaw to bring in others to the feast.

Q.3 What is the Diet of a Jackdaw?

Jackdaws have a wide range of food sources, although they are mostly fruit, seeds, and small invertebrates.

But what has given jackdaws an edge in survival during times of famine is that they will eat carrion.

Plus, they have no problem consuming the eggs laid by other species of birds.

The exact diet of a specific jackdaw will simply depend on the food sources near where they roost.

It’s common for jackdaws around farms to eat insects while those that roost in urban areas might find fruit or seeds to consume.

But it is their ability to consume carrion that gives them an edge in survival over many other species of birds.

Q.4 What do Jackdaw Nests Look Like?

Jackdaws do not build nests out on tree limbs like many other birds.

Instead, they find holes or cavities such as chimneys, holes in trees, and the like to lay their eggs.

They will build a nest inside the cavity, starting with an outer layer of twigs followed by an inner layer of hair or wool to protect the eggs.

Most jackdaws have four to five eggs, but they hatch at different times. This gives the last one to hatch only a small chance at survival.

The eggs themselves tend to be blue-green or pale blue in coloring while having dark speckles.

If you want to have jackdaws in your yard, a tawny owl box should provide an adequate home.

Q.5 Are Jackdaws Intelligent?

Jackdaws are one of very few species that can be considered highly intelligent.

It may seem counter-intuitive considering that the term “bird brain” is used to denote stupidity.

But the truth is that jackdaws can learn new tricks, figure out how to open many bird feeders and display other examples of cognitive thinking where they must figure out puzzles.

Another interesting sign of intelligence is that jackdaws can identify individual humans.

It is not known just how they do it, but it may have something to do with their ability to recognize distinct shapes and features that is refined enough for them to recognize faces.

Q.6 Will Jackdaws Mate for Life?

Yes. They will form a strong bond with their mate which will last for the rest of their lives.

Even if no eggs are produced for years at a time, they tend to stay with the same mate.

This may be due to the dedication required to raise their young. Only when one bird passes away does the other search for another mate.

Q.7 Can I Kill Jackdaws in the US or UK?

Permits to either trap or destroy jackdaws are only given to those who have livestock, crops, and wild birds that are preyed upon by the jackdaws.

There are also permits given to kill or trap jackdaws if they present a danger to the public health, but any action may be limited to government officials.

Q.8 Are Jackdaws Considered Pests?

For farmers, the answer is yes. One flock of jackdaws is enough to decimate crops.

Their hunger is such that different types of crops are vulnerable.

In addition, like many in the crow family, jackdaws have a peculiar fascination with shiny objects.

This means that they tend to claw and scratch the wing mirrors on vehicles.

Q.9 Do Jackdaws Like People?

Yes, jackdaws have a certain empathy for people.

The exact reason is not known, but it may have to do with the eye contact that people make with jackdaws.

And while jackdaws are not tame, those that find a nest of fledglings that are abandoned may take the place of their mother if they can feed them.

But even jackdaws that are not raised by humans tend to be friendly or at least non-threatening.

After all, you are not a source of food, so they tend to treat humans with respect even if the same is not true about the crops raised by humans.

Q.10 Do Jackdaws Show Visible Signs of Aging?

Feathers do not turn gray like the hair on mammals which is a definite sign of aging.

However, there is a similar effect on jackdaws because the older they get, the more the structure of their feathers will change.

The result is that light will reflect differently and not be as black.

Jackdaws are unusual in that they will show more signs of aging because of their black plumage.

That makes it easier to spot the changes. It’s not nearly as apparent in other birds with lighter colors.

And now you know more about the remarkable jackdaw.

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