Thursday, 28 February 2013

Conwy County Jackdaws Winter 2013 Feedback

I have recently received feedback on pictures that I have sent round a few people on the Jackdaws that I have found around Conwy County this winter. I have over 250 pictures of at least 12 ‘neck collared’ individuals. Most comments are adapted from Rudy Offereins emails. He wrote this interesting article for Dutch Birding on ‘Identification of eastern subspecies of Western Jackdaw and occurrence in the Netherlands’. Link here

This first bird turned up in my garden during the snow on 20/01/2013. This followed a period of snow and easterly winds. Alan Tilmouth wrote this on the birding frontiers website

I’ve also noticed that the timing is interesting with many of these ‘Eastern-type’ Jackdaws showing up from December onwards with a peak in February/March. There could be two factors at play here; weather related movements from the continent perhaps pushing birds further west in bad winters and the tendency for juveniles to move further than adults that only subsequently get detected as they begin to wear in late winter causing the collars and neck patches to become more prominent.

My garden Llandudno Junction 20/01/2013

Per Rudy, The birds in your garden are ‘classic’ monedula’s because of their pale and long collars and their pale under-parts where darker chevrons shine through. Local resident birds would have much
darker under-parts.

This is true as the accompanying local Jackdaws have almost, completely black under-parts. He also added.

Variation within spermologus is with these birds (because of the paler under-parts, combined with the pale collar) out of the question.

The same comment was given for this bird at Sychnant pass, Conwy 21/02/2013. These birds show a strong contrast between the black wings and paler under-parts and mantle.



The picture below was taken at Caerhun on 25/02/2013. It showed neck-collar but less paler under-parts. I was told as it has no clear marks on the under-parts it is best to leave these birds un-identified. However, looking more like the Russian race soemmerringii with their darker looking upper-parts and a neck-collar, I think they could be from the messy turrium intergrate of monedula and spermologus or, could also be part of the off-spring from the ‘Nordic origin’ birds that have stayed in Wales and bred.
Bird to be left un-identified, Caerhun

After keeping an eye on some of these individuals, most of these birds have now gone. I wonder how many ‘neck collared’ birds are seen from April onwards. Most of the birds I have seen are in stubble fields with other Jackdaws. Interestingly the biggest congregation of Jackdaws is in Conwy itself, but doesn’t seem to contain any neck collared birds.

From this feedback, I feel I now know which birds are more likely to be ‘monedula’ and which ones to ignore. Feel free to disagree with anything here or add any suggestions etc.
Final comment from Rudy

There is no chance of a full species status, but they are eastern birds and that's always a nice feature in Wales!


  1. Interesting post Rob. Thanks for working on that.I suppose we also have to be careful how we interpret some photos, stressing the need to get good photos where possible. Could you ask him to have a look at my post earlier on this month "Nordic type jackdaw". It's head and collar look good but it's underparts and back appear quite black. I'm sure thes features can vary enormously depending on the light, and the bird I photographed was distant so the photos aren't great.

  2. Luckily I have plenty of pics of these birds from various angles and light conditions. I will pass your photos on, an pass on the response. Just after I posted Alan Tilmouth emailed me with a similar response to Rudy et al about the birds above. I have enjoyed looking into these birds. Great challenge.

    1. Interesting stuff. I remember once seeing a strongly neck-collared bird amongst a flock feeding on some grass by the entrance to Ysbyty Gwynedd.

      Must pay more atention to them, especially the regular migrant flocks that pass through here each autumn in future.

  3. Interesting stuff Rob. Be good to build up a proper database of white collared bird sightings.