These are members of the Crow family common to the UK
AA and RSPB The Complete Book of British Birds
Jackdaw Corvus monedula 33cm 220 – 270g
Rook Corvus frugilegus 46cm 460 – 520g
Carrion and Hooded Crow
Corvus corone 47cm 540 – 600g
Raven Corvus corax 64cm 800 -1500g
According to WIKI, some crows can live to the age of 20, an American crow lived to be 30 and the oldest captive crow recorded died at the age of 59. My father rescued a Jackdaw from the drooling jaws of a cat, and there is a picture of me somewhere with it on my hand. I was 2. He had a knack with animals and apparently when it was fully recovered, he released it back into the wild though it continued to return to our garden for several years.
Crows are scavengers, Nature’s dustbins and clean up brigade as they eat anything. It is a common sight to see them picking at the remains of some roadkill creature or en masse in freshly harvested fields. I had always believed the carrion crow was the largest, but the above data states otherwise.
Crows are not my favourite birds at the best of times. They are noisy, ugly, and their beaks remind me of a rancid toenail.
However, we saw a truly magnificent sight this evening and stood mesmerised as hundreds of birds of varying sizes appeared from behind us to descend in swathes onto the power lines. As each black cloud overshot the wires to turn and land into the wind, jostling for position but not arguing amongst themselves, the noise was deafening. The wires dipped and bowed under their weight, and swung in relief when great numbers took off to either realign themselves or join another group as it came towards them to settle. Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud at their multitude.
We have no idea how many there were, but there must have been well over a thousand birds tonight, and I had some really funny thoughts going through my head about gravity, ripple effects, and wondering if one bird would be shot into orbit if all the others jumped at the same time (I’m sad like that) . It was also a miracle that nothing snapped under their combined weight.
It seemed they had some form of hierarchy and order when they left their temporary perches, leaving in groups much as they had arrived, but all with a common goal to roost in the trees down in the copse where we had just returned from our walk. We have been in the woods early some mornings and heard their wake-up caws and frantic flapping overhead as their day began. If we had not taken our woodland walk late this afternoon, we would have missed the wonder of them returning to their roosts for the night. The whole procedure, from gathering to departure, took only about fifteen minutes, and when the last bird had left the power line, the woods were eerily silent in the failing light of day at sunset.