Coloeus monedula (Linnaeus, 1758) JD JACKD 15600
Family: Passeriformes > Corvidae

Jackdaw, John Proudlock

Large Jackdaw flocks, with their characteristic 'chack-chack' calls, can be an impressive sight when coming to roost on winter evenings.

The Jackdaw is a smart looking bird with black plumage, and a contrasting light grey nape. The eye is a piercing silver yellow in adults, but a stunning blue in young birds. This omnivorous species prefers open countryside in which to forage for food, but will nest in towns to take advantage of the warmth and cavities of chimneys.

A resident species, the number of Jackdaws breeding in the UK has increased sharply since the 1960s, although this trend is more stable in Wales and Northern Ireland. Numbers in winter are supplemented by birds visiting from northern Europe.

Exploring the trends for Jackdaw

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Jackdaw population is changing.

trends explorer


Jackdaw identification is usually straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Jackdaw.

related video

Identifying Corvids - Crow, Chough, Jackdaw, Rook and Raven

A black crow flies over - but is it a Crow, a Rook or even a Raven? Let this video help you to separate these confusing species, along with their smaller cousins: Jackdaw and Chough.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Jackdaw, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Begging call

Alarm call


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Jackdaws have increased in abundance since the 1960s (Gregory & Marchant 1996). The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that increase over that period was fairly uniform across the UK range, but with some minor decrease in eastern Scotland, and more recent BBS data suggest that the increase is continuing in all UK countries apart from Wales where the BBS trend is stable. Numbers across Europe have been broadly stable since 1980 (PECBMS: PECBMS 2020a>).

Exploring the trends for Jackdaw

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Jackdaw population is changing.

trends explorer


Jackdaws are widespread in both seasons and absent only from large areas of northwest Scotland and parts of northwest Ireland.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Breeding Season Habitats

Relative frequency by habitat

Relative occurrence in different habitat types during the breeding season.

>Bar of similar size indicate the species is equally likely to be recorded in those habitats


There has been little overall change in breeding distribution but there has been a mixture of gains and losses at the edge of the winter range in Scotland, and to a lesser extent in Ireland.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Jackdaw is recorded throughout the year on up to 50% of complete lists.

Weekly occurence of Jackdaw from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Jackdaw ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Jackdaw, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Jackdaw

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Jackdaw population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Jackdaw

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Jackdaw population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Cathag
Welsh: Jac-y-do
Catalan: gralla occidental
Czech: kavka obecná
Danish: Allike
Dutch: Kauw
Estonian: hakk
Finnish: naakka
French: Choucas des tours
German: Dohle
Hungarian: csóka
Icelandic: Dvergkráka
Irish: Cág
Italian: Taccola
Latvian: kovarnis, kakis
Lithuanian: eurazine kuosa
Norwegian: Kaie
Polish: kawka (zwyczajna)
Portuguese: gralha-de-nuca-cinzenta
Slovak: kavka tmavá
Slovenian: kavka
Spanish: Grajilla occidental
Swedish: kaja


Interpretation and scientific publications about Jackdaw from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

There is no evidence available regarding the ecological causes of increase for this species but changes have been associated with improvements in breeding performance, probably due to increased food availability.

Further information on causes of change

As with Magpie, Rook and Carrion Crow, the increase has been associated with improvements in breeding performance and probably reflects the species' generalist feeding habits, which allow it to exploit diverse and ephemeral food resources, although direct evidence for this is limited. There have been substantial declines in nest failure rates during the egg and chick stages, and the number of fledglings per breeding attempt has improved. Laying dates have advanced by a week. The 2007-11 Atlas abundance maps (Balmer et al. 2013) show lower abundance for Jackdaw in very urban areas such as Greater London, unlike Magpie and Carrion Crow. Their ability to spread into more urban habitats may be limited by poorer food resources in these areas which lead to low breeding productivity (Meyrier et al. 2017).

Typically in this species, the younger chicks of a brood perish quickly if food becomes limited. Henderson & Hart (1993) provided evidence that increases in fledging success are likely to be due to improved provisioning by the parents. Most of the variation in annual reproductive output was caused by nestling mortality rather than clutch size or hatching success. Soler & Soler (1996) used data from Spain to show that additional food advanced the laying date, increased the clutch size, independently of laying date, and increased fledging success.

Changes in the landscape may have also benefited this species. Gregory & Marchant (1996) found an increase in Jackdaw numbers in agricultural habitats, particularly in the south-west, but an overall decrease in forests. These increases were associated with trends in cultivation and population gains have been most pronounced on grazing farms and in the north and south-west where such farms predominate. A similar pattern was found in Sweden by Andren (1992), who provided evidence that the density of Jackdaws increased as forest became fragmented and intermixed with agricultural land.

Information about conservation actions

Like most other crow species (with the exception of Rook), the Jackdaw is currently increasing in the UK, hence it is not a species of concern and no conservation actions are currently required.

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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