Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Jackdaw

(1) Original
(1) Original
(2) Jackdaw
(2) Jackdaw
(3) Jackdaw
(3) Jackdaw
(4) Jackdaw
(4) Jackdaw
(5) Iv\'e got an itch
(5) Iv'e got an itch
(6) Jackdaw
(6) Jackdaw
(7) Jackdaw
(7) Jackdaw

 

 

The Jackdaw
This week we take a long look at the ‘Jack the Lad’ of the Crow family, the ‘Jackdaw’. This cheeky, loveable, sometimes a very noisy bird is well known to us all, whether we have a garden or not, they will find a way to make themselves noticed by us, and as there are 500,000 pairs of them, you will see them on a daily basis wherever you go.

They will eat practically anything that is edible, but their main diet consists of worms, grain, other birds eggs and young chicks, small mammals, and I often observe them on my garden fence looking under the metal railing for insects, like bugs and spiders etc., that have climbed up for some shelter from the elements. They arrive on my building along with a fair amount of Rooks every morning just as daylight is nearing from the Foley Woods, then, as the skies brighten they perform, with what appears to be a warming up process before heading to their feeding grounds around Bute.
The aerobatics display of these birds at this time is a sight to behold. They are the most versatile of the Crow family with their bucking and weaving, dive bombing each other as though being chased by predators. Good training for them if the occasion arises that they are being chased.
Their favourite place to nest is on a cliff, preferably one that has been frequented by rabbits, as they will take up residence in the burrows. This way they do not require much nesting materials to bring up their brood as they have a roof over their heads to keep out the elements. Also, they will use any crevice or hole, even a chimney often takes their fancy to setup home. Nowhere is safe from these birds as they look for digs, and if they are stuck, they will resort to trees. They will if possible, use the same nest site year after year, and if the flock gets bigger, the noise gets louder and louder. Just as well they most of them prefer to be out in the country to nest. There are exceptions however, as the Foley Woods have a fair amount of them, mixing with the rooks, and adding to the melee, and more so at dusk, when they once again play at dive bombing each other and screaming like banshees as they do. This is their last playtime before settling down for the night. Ok in the summertime, but long nights in the winter can’t be much fun.
They have always been a favourite with the public, and more so with teenagers. I think that it was that they were very cheeky, just like themselves, and would land quite close to you and strut about looking important, also there were rumours that they could be taught to talk. I think that they were thinking of the Mynah Bird.
The one in my photo is called Jack Daw. (Well what else could you call him/her). It had fallen out of a nest and was in poor condition, and it was impossible to locate which nest out of many, that it fell from so it was taken home to be looked after. If it had been put in the wrong nest it may not have survived as it may have been cast out by its intended foster parents, and as it was very young it could not have looked after itself.
After a lot of tender loving care, it adapted very well to its new way of life. It was kept out of danger until it had fledged, then the fun began. It became the centre point of its adopted family, and like lots of children, it was spoilt. It was encouraged to meet up with the rest of the local Jackdaws, and did so but came down of the trees or roofs when called and landed on the shoulder or head of its new daddy.
It is now one of the families, but still has its freedom which is only right. It is wrong and illegal to take any bird from their nest, but this was not the case this time, this was a case of walking away from a bird in distress, or helping it to survive. What would you have done? He helped the bird out and in doing so gave a valuable lesson on nature and life to his family, and as he looks at it flying with the rest of the flock, he knew that he had done the right thing.

Norrie Mulholland

First Published in the Buteman 14-11-2003


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