Still more crows
Two ‘black’ species I didn’t have space to deal with in my last article on the family were the choughs.
The commonest, the Redbilled Chough, is a familiar bird to those of you who live in mountainous areas of Alicante or Murcia provinces, where flocks may sometimes reach three figures, and where the birds’ call (its name, ‘Chowww!’) is often heard. Close up, red legs and red bill will be obvious.
Beware of confusion where young birds are concerned, as their yellowish bills leads to erroneous reports of the highmountaindwelling Alpine Chough, which does have a yellow bill, but whose highpitched, buzzing call you are only likely to hear if you travel to the Pyrenees or Picos de Europa, where big flocks are common.
Less obviously crowlike members of the family are several. The dreaded Magpie needs no introduction, a scourge upon small nesting birds, its population has rocketed in recent years, occupying areas where none were to be found ten years ago. (Fortunately, Great Spotted Cuckoos, their own private nestparasites, tag along, in, however, much numbers!)
The Jay is another evil creature – if you are a small bird, trying to bring up your family in peace – and is by no means uncommon in our area, though tends to be restricted to woodland areas, and at least is an attractive bird, with a liking for acorns when they are in season.
In my ringing days in England, we always used to try to discourage Jays, shaking out their nests, where we were hoping that warblers would breed – the Jays, however, always seemed to find somewhere else to nest, and kept plundering our warblers. More crows next week… smaller Should you have any comment or query, do contact me at email@example.com
Chough Alpine Chough