Rook

Seen in flocks feeding on open ground on farmland, this large bird is a member of the crow (corvid) family and appears black at a distance. When seen close up, it has an area of light bare skin around the base of its beak and deep metallic blue tones to the upper feathers of its black plumage. In flight the wings appear to be narrower near to the body and it has a slightly rounded end to its tail.  They are social nesters forming rookeries in stands of tall trees near to farms and houses.

Easy to see when the rookeries are most active during the breeding season in spring and early summer. These rookeries are also very noisy with pairs calling to each other and their young. Birds will return to the rookeries at night to roost from the autumn until late spring.

As a bird that has adapted well to the rural landscape, it is found near to both arable and grazing land. They take newly sown crops such as cereals, thus the need for scarecrows, but once the crop is growing they are a boon to the farmer feeding on crop damaging burrowing insect larvae like “leather jackets”, which develop into the ubiquitous “daddy longlegs”.

The Cream o’Galloway Farm has a fine rookery you can view from their children’s adventure playground viewing tower.

There are four other corvids found in Scotland and this is the second smallest after the carrion crow or hooded crow.

Chough

Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

While its black plumage identifies it as a crow, the chough (pronounced 'chuff') has a red bill and legs unlike any other member of the crow family. It has a restricted westerly distribution in the British Isles and because of its small population siz...