Chough

Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

39-40cm

Appearance

Male and female Choughs are similar; black overall with an iridescent blue or purple shine in the right light and range. The red bill curves downward, the legs are red, and when flying, the wings divide slightly at their tips and are square-ended. Juveniles are duller overall, and have a yellowish bill.

Habitat

Typically found on rocky shorelines and cliffs, particularly in the west of England, the south and west coasts of Ireland, and in North Wales. Frequents inland mountainous areas when on the Continent.

Character

The Chough is acrobatic in the air, swooping in the wind near to cliffs, and it is a vocal bird, too. May group together in large flocks, and may be seen on the flats of sea cliffs, feeding in the grass.

Food

Feeds on invertebrates found by digging in the soil and upturning stones. Diet includes beetles, caterpillars, craneflies, ants, spiders, flies, worms, berries, grain, small mammals and birds.

Breeding

Nesting occurs in caves near the ocean, or in gaps in cliff faces. Female lays 3-5 eggs and incubates them for 17-18 days. Both parents tend to the young, sometimes with the help of other Choughs, particularly immatures raised by the same pair; young depart the nest at about 38 days old.

Population

Resident numbers are sparse in the region, and birds rarely travel far from breeding territories. There are approximately 450 pairs in the UK and 400 - 850 in Ireland.

Observation Tips

When not breeding, flocks of Choughs are loud and often large, making them quite a spectacle. They are quite particular about their habitat, so observers need to stick to coastal cliffs with suitable grassland for the Chough’s feeding habits.

Voice

Has a ‘chyaa’ call, regularly voiced along with a flustered movement of the wings; higher-ptiched than the Jackdaw.
Back to Bird Index