Some of the commonest and noisiest birds are in the crow family.
Found in most regions of the world they tend to be medium to large sized, intelligent, mainly blackish in colour and relatively brave around people.
Here in Ireland, the Jackdaw is one of the most visible members of the family which numbers approximately 40. Its white eye ring and mixture of black and grey feathers making it easily identifiable.
Slightly bigger are the Rooks which often mingle with Jackdaws.
They are much tougher looking and have a strong beak with a whitish patch at the base. They also show a dark blue tint when the sun shines.
They make untidy large nests in colonies known as rookeries, in the tops of trees in whereas the Jackdaws nest in holes, such as in trees or chimneys.
The biggest of our crows is the Raven with a wingspan of up to 1.3m. These are birds of higher ground, mostly scavenging on dead animals.
The other typical Grey-Black crow we have is the Hooded Crow. It is very similar to the Carrion Crow, found in England, which does not have any grey.
This is the main crow in many European continental countries.
Hooded Crow pairs nest on their own in tops of tall trees.
However, another common crow here is the Magpie – a really beautiful bird but with a bad reputation due to their success in towns and dominance over small birds.
Reasonably common but not seen as much is the Jay which has much less black in its plumage.
It is predominantly Brown with patches of blue, black and white and is most often seen in woods, particularly Oak woods.
The final Irish Corvid is the least known but possibly the most interesting and certainly my favourite. The Chough is similar in some ways to the Jackdaw but has red legs and beak. Also the beak is thinner and down curved – designed for poking into the ground.
The best places to see these are along the South and West coasts. They will probably be noticed first by their unusual ‘chough’ calls.
That’s a reasonable number of ‘Crows’ for a little country. In a blog to follow, some of the other crows will be highlighted.