FROM TIME TO time we celebrate as Bird of the Month a species which would come under the category ‘forgotten treasure’. The Rook is a classic case in point. Some would argue that the Rook is hardly a treasure, but others may agree that this really is a charming corvid. Charming, that is, if you like weird-looking, peg-billed, bald-faced crows. Rooks, of course, nest in rookeries, some of the most obvious nesting structures of any of our terrestrial birds. Indeed, these colonies are part and parcel of rural Britain. So ingrained are they in our national consciousness, they, paradoxically, become forgotten. They also feed in large groups. But don’t be fooled by the old adage that a single crow is a crow (ie Carrion Crow) but several crows together must be Rooks. Often, Carrion Crows also appear in large numbers. That said, it is more of a habit for Rooks, which also mix with their smaller Jackdaw cousins. Also, Carrion Crows do not nest colonially. Rooks are not hard to identify if seen well. The combination of pale grey face and bill base, peg-shaped bill, high crown and steep forehead, and ‘shaggy trousered’ look are distinctive. In flight, the rounded (not square) tail is easily seen, and with practice, the flight style of the Rook is subtly different from that of the Carrion Crow. The voice is distinctive, described as a more ‘polite caw’ by our own Dominic Couzens (compared to the cruder, more vulgar ‘caw’ of the crow). They also produce high squeaky notes, particularly in flight. If you hear such a note, look up and pay your respects to this oft-forgotten character.