Still more crows

Costa Levante News - - SERVICES - CLASSIFIEDS - Na­ture Trail by Mal­colm Palmer

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 mal­


Chough Alpine Chough


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