Daurian Jackdaw

Daurian Jackdaw
Daurian Jackdaw about to alight on the back of a sheep, Qinghai, China. (Craig Brelsford)

Mainly Northeast Asian distribution of Daurian Jackdaw Coloeus dauuricus includes much of China, with breeding range covering most of Inner Mongolia and northeast China and winter range covering much of southeast China. Resident throughout much of central China, from southeast Tibet and northern Yunnan to Qinghai, Shandong, and Hebei. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Open-country specialist; avoids both thick forest and areas with no trees. Very sociable; usually in pairs or flocks, perching together on telephone wires; also in mixed corvid flocks, especially in winter, gleaning fallen grain on stubbly fields with trees nearby for roosting. Compared to “true” (Corvus) crows, flies more like pigeon, with faster, deeper wing beats. Nests in cavities (holes in buildings and trees, crevices in cliffs, etc.). ID & COMPARISON Small, black and white, in most cases easily identifiable. Adult glossy black on throat, wings, tail, and most of head (ear coverts usually washed or streaked grey). Unbroken white or pale grey from mid-crown down nape and neck-sides to breast and belly. Juvenile largely black with silver streaking on nape and sides of head; juvenile Western Jackdaw Coloeus monedula also largely black but lacks silver streaking and has white eye. Collared Crow Corvus torquatus has white plumage extending only to breast, is 50 percent larger and slimmer, and has a longer bill. BARE PARTS Eye, feet, and short, slender bill black. VOICE Voluble and noisy, but generally less irascible in its vocalizations than other corvids. Has crow-like caw and squeaky, abrupt kiaow. — Craig Brelsford


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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