A little raven with bright eyes? That can only be a Jackdaw!

How to recognise a jackdaw

Telling the difference between a Jackdaw and a raven or a crow is quite simple, even though they all belong to the raven family. The Jackdaw is significantly smaller than other ravens due to its short neck, beak and short tail. Its plumage looks black at first glance with a small, silver-grey hood which appears to cover the back of the head, neck and ears. The Jackdaw owes the latter part of its zoological name “corvus monedula”, meaning “little monk”, to this hood. Its plumage also reflects the colours green to violet depending on how the light strikes it. The easiest way to tell a Jackdaw is by its piercing blue to silvery-white eyes.

 Mating and breeding

Jackdaws, which are among the most intelligent of the bird species, are also markedly gregarious birds and like to move around together with their lifelong partners in groups or swarms. During the mating season, from April to May however, the Jackdaw pair favour their own company and will hatch up to six eggs. The ranking within the group determines who’s entitled to the best nesting places and the best food. This distinct communication within the group and the highly developed society life of the Jackdaw is unique in the animal world. The intelligence of this songbird can also be recognised in its ability to learn: during the course of its life the Jackdaw will learn to imitate sounds and voices from its environment – not least to mimic other birds.


The availability of food and nesting places for the Jackdaw has shrunk – urbanisation of the land has increased, agriculture works with pesticides and insecticides and in houses, roof structures and towers the birds are no longer welcome guests. And currently, due to the refurbishment of building facades, valuable nesting options for these cavity breeders are ceasing to exist. This is why Jackdaws received increased attention this year – even though, taken as a whole, they’re still present in large numbers and are very adaptable.

Here’s how you can help the Jackdaw

If you own your own garden or plot, you can hang nesting boxes suitable for Jackdaws on trees or buildings. Instruction on how to build these can be found, for example, on the NABU internet site (www.nabu.de). Caution: The nesting boxes should be out of reach to cats, minks or martens.

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