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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jackdaw, the hunter?

I was awakened very early this morning by my husband who was upset. He'd been watching a jackdaw on one of our stone planters with what he thought was nesting material in its mouth. The bird was behaving strangely by ramming the 'nesting material' against the planter. When hubby looked more carefully, he saw that it wasn't nesting material, but a mouse. The jackdaw was bashing it against the planter just as a thrush smashes a snail on a rock.

There was no time for my husband to try to scare the jackdaw and distract it from its acivity; the poor little mouse was already dead and it would probably just have flown off with it anyway. We were puzzled as we had no idea that jackdaws hunted and killed small animals in this way, unless it was a lucky opportunity for the bird.

I've always been fond of jackdaws but was dismayed by the killing of one of 'our' garden mice. However, a little research on the internet revealed that this species of bird has a number of admirable qualities. For instance, they pair for life and even if egg production is not successful, they will not go off in search of another partner. It seems that the jackdaw acknowledges those words 'for better or for worse'! They are a highly sociable bird, protective of the members of their flock and they even share food, in fact study has shown that the jackdaw has a higher level of giving than many of the higher animals.

Saddened as I was about the incident, I will have to accept this as an aspect of nature.


  1. It's very difficult, at times, not to label certain critters as "bad" and others as "good". They simply are doing what they are meant to do. It is just another aspect of nature but ... it's hard to witness.

    Small Footprints

  2. I know Sf. Hubby and I have great fun watching the antics of the mice in the garden so this particular incident left us saddened. I think we were more surprised at discovering that jackdaws fed on mice. We had never associated them with birds of prey. But we would never label them as 'bad'. I know what you are saying...... they are following their instincts. :)

  3. That's interesting, I had no idea they hunted

  4. Hi Greg, neither did we. I googled it and sure enough, mice were there on the jackdaws' menu! We're going to make sure that any food we put down for the mice is not out in the open and I planted more ground cover for them today. :)

  5. I agree that nature will do what it is meant to. I had to pull my cat in from the screen porch this morning because a bird was trapped in there and I knew my cat's nature would win eventually. The bird is safe:)

  6. Awww Debbie, thank you for seeing that the trapped bird remained safe. :) I do love cats as well though, in fact I believe they are one of the most beautiful animals in the world!