Celebrating the Jackdaw

Highly intelligent, sociable, and well mannered. What more could you want? Jackdaws have a highly developed culture. Did you know they have a strong hierarchy amongst them. There is always a big handsome chief, followed by upper class pretenders, then the middle classes and the lower classes. This class system is sorted very soon after they fly the nest, with young males prancing and preening their way to their allotted status in life.

This chap looks like the Big Chief

Once the pecking order is settled, they turn their attention to the ladies. Pairing takes place very early in life, long before they are mature enough to mate. The ladies assume the same social position as their man and they stay together for life, despite not breeding for another year or so. They look after each other, share food and possessions, and remain totally faithful.


Should there be uneven numbers of males and females in the group, those who find themselves unattached are at the bottom of the pile, a sort of under class, pecked by all the rest with no-one for them to peck. However, if the King loses his Queen, he will chose another partner who may well be one of these miserable spinsters – and she will then cast off her rags in exchange for fine plumage and other perks of royalty. He will never attempt to take a lady from one of the others.

This is another picture of the leucistic jackdaw. Maybe he is at the bottom of the pile due to his markings, but he does have a normal mate.

They eat just about anything – insects, worms, mice, seeds, vegetation, berries, fruit, nuts and scraps. Mine are very partial to suet. Sadly, they can also take eggs and chicks like other corvids. This variety of food and lack of faddy tastes allows the species to thrive.


I have witnessed two jackdaws having a ferocious tug of war with a date, but have never seen them peck at or show aggression to another species of bird. They wait patiently for an empty feeder, or sometimes simply fly down to one occupied by a pigeon or starling, whereupon said bird quickly disappears having seen the size of the approaching claws.

And who wouldn't give way to that!!!!

 I have grown very fond of them. They aren't particularly greedy, don't fight or squabble, and don't break feeders, although they do steal fat cakes if they get half a chance. They are also very clever and inventive. They can perch ontop of the pole, reach down with great agility to lift up a half coconut by the string, hold it in their claws and eat the contents. I have 6 regulars, occasionally 8. I don't want any more, but am pleased to have the ones I have.

Cheers, Linda.

See my photos on Flickr

  • Hi Sparrow,

    You have done a good job on celebrating the Jackdaw lovely pics. They do look interesting Birds to watch. I think my garden Is a bit small to have Jackdaws In, I've never seen one close up.I will stick to my little Birds.


  • What a wonderful post, with beautiful pictures! I love jackdaws too, they are very very handsome with their pale eyes - like little round aquamarines! And their calls never fail to cheer me up, they sound so lively and happy! I do have a soft spot for your leucistic jackdaw, how very pretty!


    Thanks for sharing this, it's lovely :D

  • Hi Sparrow

    What an excellent set of pictures and a fascinating narrative. You have been doing your homework. If only we humans were as well mannered and behaved as Jackdaws the world would be a better place.

    Sadly, although they do come into my garden occasionally they are very shy and never stay long enough for me to study their behaviour.

    Best wishes




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  • Hi Sparrow

    I love your Jackdaw pics and thank you so much for all of the interesting facts about them.

    I have recently managed to persuade a pair of Jackdaws to visit my fence feeder. The next task is to take a picture of them before they fly away......

    Best wishes Chris

    Best wishes Chris

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  • Brilliant set of pictures, we get a garden full of them and crows if I chop up the leftover  cooked chicken and skin and they adore nuts

    Of all creatures, man is the most detestable, he is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain.
    ~ Mark Twain

  • Anonymous

    In reply to JudiM:

    Love your pictures Sparrow

    Superb footage and a nice bit of narration to go with the pictures

    Jackdaws have amazing eyes that are very piercing, although they look right into your soul.


    Kathy and Dave

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Sparrow. What lovely pictures. Over on the Dutch webcams there is an endless row between the jackdaws, doves and kestrels. It is an amazing struggle.

    Tiger's RSPB Signature

  • Lovely photos Sparrow, I love Jackdaws too.

    ChloeB & Tiger's Osprey Data

  • In reply to ChloeB:

    Hi Sparrow

    Super photos and great account of their habits.   They fly all over the place around here but I only get one or two who pop in to see what's what, they may take a nibble or two but then off they go.  However I do get them more during the breeding season when they're looking to feed their family.

    Thanks for sharing your photos they are really lovely.




  • In reply to Kezmo:

    Thank you so much Sparrow for a very informative article with fabulous photographs. I love the final photo. We do have Jackdaws here but must admit I do take them for granted as just one of our regulars.