Eurasian Jackdaw

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Is the Eurasian Jackdaw right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Western Jackdaw, Common Jackdaw, Choucas des tours, Dohle, Grajilla Occidental

Scientific name: Corvus monedula

The basics:
The Eurasian Jackdaw, a smallish member of the crow family, is one of the most intelligent birds known to science. Hand-raised baby Jackdaws become imprinted on people and can learn tricks or even human speech. This bird's need for a specialized high protein diet, combined with its demand for intellectual enrichment and lots of social interaction, means that this species is probably best for the intermediate or experienced bird owner.

The highly successful Eurasian Jackdaw is widespread in Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. These cavity nesters learned how to breed in chimneys and other human structures as well as cliffs, allowing their population to expand in urban or suburban areas. They can also accept nestboxes. There are four subspecies.

Jackdaws can be easily distinguished from other crows by its dark gray nape and very pale eyes. A snow-white albino mutation occasionally appears.

220 - 250 grams (7.8 - 8.8 oz.)

Average size:
34 - 39 centimeters (13.4 - 15.4 in.)

15 years

Behavior / temperament:
Jackdaws imprinted on their human owners from an early age have an enviable reputation as pets. In Sylvia Bruce Wilmore's classic 1970s-era look at the crow family, Crows, Jays, Ravens, and Their Relatives, she stated, “No wild bird makes a better pet than a Jackdaw. It will show great devotion to its owner and it can be allowed free run of the garden without causing trouble.” There are even cases of Jackdaws learning a few words of human speech.

But watch out. This species has been known for hundreds, if not thousands, of years for its fascination with shiny objects. Your Jackdaw may not be able to resist snatching and hiding shiny items like your jewelry. They can also be noisy. And, of course, it would be unrealistic to expect an untamed adult Jackdaw to ever become as tame as an imprinted hand-raised baby.

The active Jackdaw deserves the largest flight or aviary that you can reasonably provide, with plenty of enrichment items like toys and swings to capture its imagination. The flight may not need to be especially tall, since this species likes to spend a lot of time foraging on the ground. This species will appreciate ledges as well as traditional perches.

Some people free fly imprinted birds, allowing them to offer a somewhat smaller sleep cage. However, you need to be alert to keep your curious Jackdaw out of trouble. Some people have even trained their pet Jackdaws to wear a flight harness.

Wild Eurasian Jackdaws are adaptable, but they consume a protein-rich diet including live grubs, eggs, and even tiny vertebrates in addition to green food, grain, and fruit. A captive diet could include a low iron softbill crumble supplemented with mealworms, crickets, and other insects as well as treats like cooked chicken, chopped grapes, tiny pinky mice, and more.

Written by Elaine Radford

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