Diary of a Young Naturalist – The Jackdaws

18.05.18 Inch Abbey, Downpatrick. As warm and pleasant as any summer’s day.

Black shapes on the feeder always take me by surprise, they look so out of place teetering shakily on the edge – Jackdaws quite delicately eat the fat balls in our feeding bowls. Not like the other corvidae – especially Rooks, who grab entire spheres and fly away.

It was a perfect day, still, except for buzzing and hum, and the distant screech of Terns on the Quoile. Butterflies were everywhere.

Seeing a clattering of a Jackdaws in a beautiful ruined Cistercian Abbey is something special. They swooped silently all around us and then we heard other noises, not quite caws, yet. I explored, sought and found. Crevices were protectively guarded with twigs. Chicks. The sounds seemed to come from every hidden chamber and the parents were tirelessly darting in and out to feed them.

They are such highly intelligent birds, they look into the human eye and can see – movement and intention. They can learn tricks and follow instructions, amazing creatures. I sat back and marvelled at their bouffant, shiny charcoal and night plumage.

In Celtic mythology they were said to speak in lore language, once a flock of Jackdaws pleaded to enter a town due to bullying Rooks and Ravens. The King at once refused, but Jackdaws, being the intelligent and sentient creatures they are, found a way. They found a lost, enchanted ring which had previously kept Munster safe from a Fomorian attack. The King relented and they became avian citizens. I love these stories which enrich the life of a young naturalist. Science, yes, always science, but we need a connection from our tongues and hands to these individual wild characters. They become our worldly and that is important; to have a connection with all living things.

Thank you for reading


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2 Responses

  1. I too, love jackdaws, but although we have them here in good numbers, they’ve never come to the feeders. I may try putting out some fat balls further from the house. Beautiful post as always, Dara, and as always, I’ve learned something from it 🙂

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