Seen a chough?

Red-billed chough. Photo by Bob Sharples www.bobsharplesphotography.co.uk

Have you seen a chough in Jersey? Please read down to learn about recognising choughs and their relatives. Latest news on the planned release can be found here The trial release has not yet begun and we know of no wild choughs in Jersey.

If you have seen or think you have seen a chough in Jersey please report your sighting with details (where, when and how many) to Glyn Young birdsote@gmail.com

Red-billed chough. Photo by Bob Sharples www.bobsharplesphotography.co.ukAppearance

The highly charismatic red-billed chough, with its striking long red bill and distinctive shrill call feeds on insects such as cranefly larvae in coastal farmland often close to the people and domestic animals that live there too. Choughs are members of the crow family but can be identified by their long red bills and shrill calls. In Jersey choughs may resemble the slightly larger carrion crow but this very common bird always has a dark, all black bill. Choughs maily feed in areas of short grass but may also go into ploughed fields to look for insects and worms in the soil. Crows may also feed in these areas the more delicate chough should always be easy to identify by its glossy black Carrion crow. Photo by Mick Drydenplumage and bright red legs and bill. When flying, the choughs are masters of the air currents and often tumble and spiral in the wind. In flight their shrill calls carry for long distances and their red bills should also be obvious. Crows will also seem to enjoy the wind and will chase one another over the cliffs but their flight rarely shows the apparent exuberance of the chough flocks.

Calls

The chough’s voice is very distinctive, typically a clear, high-pitched, and drawn-out ‘kjaa‘ or ‘kyeow‘). The carrion crow can be recognised by its well-known cawing ‘kraa-kraa-kraaor even sometimes woodpecker-like knocking calls and even hollow, bell-like, notes.

Other species

Jackdaw. Photo by Mick DrydenTwo other crow species occur in Jersey and both like the south-west and north coast cliffs and are likely to be found in the same areas as the choughs. The small jackdaw is quite rare but nests on the cliff faces and little groups are found in several spots such as at Noirmont, Les Landes and Crabbé. Jackdaws have short, dark bills and a very distinctive grey nape and throat, dark face and cap and prominent pale, or even white, eye. The chattering calls of the jackdaw may, however, be mistaken at times for a chough (listen below).

Raven. Photo by Mick DrydenA few pairs of the magnificent raven also nest on Jersey’s cliffs. This large and obvious crow has a massive black bill, often shaggy throat and long, wedge-shaped, tail. Ravens are often solitary or found in pairs and small family groups. These large birds are another true master of the air currents and can even fly backwards. Ravens seem to take great delight in upsetting the crows. The loud, hollow, ‘cronk‘ call can be heard over long distances.

Videos

BTO ID video of British corvids – carrion crow, rook, raven, jackdaw and chough

Chough

Carrion crow

Jackdaw

Raven