Latin name: 

Corvus monedula

Jackdaw by John Harding 

A familiar sight in many urban areas

Our smallest crow is perhaps a more frequent visitor to gardens than is generally realised, especially during the breeding season when they have very hungry broods to feed.

Naturally cliff and crag nesters, Jackdaws are now found in many town centres, where buildings and especially their chimneys provide an ideal alternative as breeding habitat.


The Jackdaw is the smallest member of the crow family to be found in Britain. The overall appearance is of a stocky black bird with grey colouration to the back of the head. Adults, though not juveniles, have a startling pale eye.


Jackdaws pair up long term, often for life. Pairs fly around together at any time of year and even in a big winter feeding flock the pairs can be picked out. When the female is busy laying eggs the male is especially vigilant and both adults put a tremendous amount of effort into rearing the young and finding enough food for them. In fact, in most years the parents are unable to rear all the chicks and some fall be the wayside before they fledge. Four or five eggs are laid but the female starts incubating halfway through the clutch so that the last two chicks will be smaller and are the most likely casualties if food is short.


The intelligence of Jackdaws is legendary and they figure in myths throughout Europe. They are supposed to steal jewellery and keep it in their nests but there seems to be no truth in this for wild birds. However, tame birds can easily be taught to do tricks. There are also several stories of Jackdaws caring for injured relatives.

Reporting rate

Long-term pattern of garden use by Jackdaws, as revealed by BTO Garden BirdWatch

Long-term pattern of garden use by Jackdaws, as revealed by BTO Garden BirdWatch

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