This evening the sky above the farmhouse is peppered with Jackdaw. From my vantage point in the front garden I estimate there to be over 100 individuals preparing to roost. I watch their black silhouettes wheeling and gliding over the Orchard before they finally settle in a stand of Sycamore.
There are 3 nest sites on the farmyard. Nest one, which has been used for the last 3 years, is in the eaves of the old Turkey Feathering Loft. This nest has chicks, although I don’t know how many. The adults are constantly popping through the gap under the tin roof to feed their hungry brood.
I have tried sneaking a look inside the nest but to get close enough requires scaling a storage unit that was built decades ago, and I really don’t think it will hold my weight!
Nest two, used for the past 2 years is in a hollow in the trunk of an ancient sycamore by the front gate. This doesn’t have any chicks in, and I think it may only be used sporadically by last years chicks from nest one.
Nest site 3 is new, and is located in another Sycamore tree hollow. It is exceptionally well camouflaged and virtually invisible from the ground. This nest too is full of hungry mouths, and an awful racket explodes from the tree at feeding time. This tends to draw the attention of other nearby Jackdaws, who subsequently flock to the tree.
Jackdaw are probably my favourite member of the Corvidae, followed closely by Jays. They are the smallest of the Crow family and can be distinguished by their light blue eyes and silvery neck feathers. They strut when they walk, as if going along to the sound of their own personal Bee Gees soundtrack (Ah ah ah ah, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive). Being social birds they tend to roost together of an evening, often with crows or rooks, hence the large numbers gathering over our farm. The collective noun for a group of Jackdaw is either a ‘train’ or a ‘clattering’. I much prefer the latter. It has a touch of onomatopoeia, conjuring up their harsh ‘jack-chak’ call .