Rook

Corvus frugilegus

44-46cm

Appearance

A black bird whose plumage takes on a purplish-red shine in certain lights and at particular angles. There is a section of whitish flesh at the base of the long, pointy bill and the tips of the wings have a fingered appearance. Juvenile resembles adult but lacks the bare flash at the bill’s base.

Habitat

Since nesting occurs in tall trees, these are a requisite for breeding Rooks. They used to prefer elms, but due to a decrease in these, they’ve adapted to oak and ash trees. Farmland, moorland, and towns are all common habitats for these birds.

Character

A social bird that forms large roosts during the autumn, and prefers to roost at the same site each year; it may inhabit this site all year round. Aerobatics may be performed in the air, particularly by individuals in groups. Upended feathers on the crown are a sign of excitement. Has a pouch in its mouth in which to carry food to young.

Food

Has a varied diet including earthworms, grain, seeds, roots, nuts, beetles, caterpillars, flies, craneflies and their larvae, small mammals, birds (particularly eggs and nestlings), and carrion.

Breeding

Nesting colonies are formed high in tall trees, with rookeries ranging from two nests to over 1000. Female lays 3 or 4 eggs which she incubates for approximately 16-18 days. Hatchlings are fed by both adults and fledge after 32-34 days, though they rely on parents for food for a further 6 weeks.

Population

Majority of birds in the region are resident, though birds in colder climates in Scotland may depart their territories in winter. The region may receive visitors from Scandinavia and the Netherlands during winter. Approximately 1.1 million pairs breed in the UK each year, and between 250 000-500 000 pairs in Ireland.

Observation Tips

In low territories of the region, Rooks can be spotted all year round, however they are at their most performative at the beginning of March, when new pairs are forming.

Voice

Has an abrasive, common ‘kah-kah-kah’ call, and a song that lacks melody, consisting of guttural sounds and the occasional screech.
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