Corvid checklist

Don’t worry, this post is about crows, not pandemic viruses (that’s Covid).

Ireland is home to seven members of the crow family (family Corvidae) – known collectively as corvids.  Although the jay is mostly seen in woodland, and choughs tend to be around coasts with cliffs, there’s a good chance you can see 4-6 of these species within a 5 km radius of your house, and, if you live in the right place, you might see all seven.  Corvids are all pretty big, and easy to identify, so they’re a great way to become a fledgling birdwatcher.  You’ve probably even got some visiting your street or garden.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has made a lovely fact sheet to the seven species of corvid. You might have guessed that crows, rooks, ravens and jackdaws were all related, but did you know that jays, magpies and choughs are all corvids too?

Jays and magpies are pretty distinct. But there are easy ways to tell the other species apart too. The chough has a red beak and legs. I always think that jackdaws and hooded crows are a bit like mirror images. The jackdaw has a grey head and a black body; the hooded crow has a black head and a grey body. OK, they’re not exact mirrors – but it’s an easy way of remembering. Finally, rooks and ravens are both black all over. Ravens are huge, but that’s not always helpful if you’re seeing them in the distance. However, rooks have a bare face and neck, so if you can see the bare patch, you know it’s a rook.

We’ve made you a recording sheet that also has pictures of all the species on, shows you their distribution so you know whether or not you can expect to see them nearby, and gives you a link to submit your records to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Download: Corvid Recording Sheet

Published by Louise Allcock

Professor of Zoology at NUI Galway

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