Hayley Chandler's picture

Magpies and crows in gardens

I have had a magpie and a crow regularly come into my back garden for several weeks now. I understand this is quite a rare occurence as both birds favour more open spaces. They don't hang around for long and just grab some bird feed and fly off but they are fascinating to watch. Has anyone else seen these birds in their gardens? I'd be interested to know if this is happening elsewhere.



Kluut's picture

It will very much depend on

It will very much depend on your location, although magpies are not that unusual in gardens.
As for crows - jackdaws are far more likely as they are far commoner around human habitations. Are you sure it is a crow rather than a jackdaw?
All members of the crow family are intelligent and learn not only about where to get easy pickings, but also if they are safe or not.
In fact, if you are living in a built-up area, you are far more likely to get them in your garden than someone living in a more rural location simply because they will be more habituated to humans.

Hayley Chandler's picture

Crow or jackdaw?

Thanks for your reply! I am pretty sure it was a crow - is there an easy way to spot the difference between a crow and a jackdaw? I live in a rural location and have fields all around me. There are rooks all around the area which pick at the farmer's crops but the bird that comes into the garden is a lot bigger than a rook. I will have to try and take picture of it next time and pop it on i-spot for a proper identification!

j.tweedie's picture

Jackdaws are a bit smaller,

Jackdaws are a bit smaller, with a grey head and a silvery-blue eye which is quite distinctive. They've also got quite a high pitched voice which is very different from the calls of Rooks or Carrion Crows. Jackdaws often associate with Rooks, so they're often found in the same areas as them, although not exclusively.

Probably the easiest way to tell a Rook and a Carrion Crow apart is to try and get a view of their beaks. The Rook's is greyish, and the Carrion Crow's is jet black and very powerfully built.

The Rook has a peaked crown whereas the Carrion Crow has a more rounded head.

In flight, Carrion Crows have broader, even wings, but the Rook's wings narrow towards the body at the rear of the wings.

There's not much in the way of size difference between them, so if you're seeing a crow which is much bigger than the other, then it's either a Carrion Crow or Rook along with Jackdaws, or depending on where you are, you're looking at Ravens which are quite a bit bigger than Rooks or Carrion Crows and have a very heavy beak.

However they're usually restricted to uplands or sea cliffs, but I do know of a couple of people who live in more rural areas who get them in their garden.

Ray Turner's picture

re: magpies and crows

Hi Hayley

I live in an urban/suburban area of London and neither magpie nor crows are particularly rare here, indeed I had a pair of crows nesting in a tall tree at the bottom of my garden (they have fledged one chick this year) though it has to be said the magpies don't come in to the garden that much. I do however regularly see them perched on the tv aerials on the houses opposite.

I believe that the population of magpies across the country has grown significantly over the past few years so it's not surprising that they are now much more common.



anthonyallen's picture

I have had magpies and crow in my garden

I have had may Magpies in my garden and it will sit on a branch next to the cocanut feeder and peck bits a fat out of it. I have regular jackdaws one recently eating off the fatball feeders. I have also had Carrion crow in garden i think it likes bread.

sduffell's picture

Magpies and Crows

We live on a small housing estate on the edge of a town and with fields very close by. We have numerous Crows and Magpies nesting in the Oaks in our and our neighbours gardens. I spotted 16 Magpies on a neighbours roof recently and I'm fairly sure a Crow was trying to intimidate me the other day when I was sitting on my deck. They are huge! Definitely increased in numbers over the past couple of years. We live on the West Sussex, East Sussex border.

mm25739's picture

I live in the country in

I live in the country in Central Scotland. We have a wood at the bottom of the field known locally as the Crow Wood (every large black bird round here is called a crow!) which is a rook nursery in spring. It is so successful that the birds have started overspilling into our garden and are nesting in the large trees. Normally there are several hundred birds in the garden and surrounding fields. About four weeks age I noticed that all but a handful had disappeared. Is this normal for winter and I just haven't noticed in previous years? Today I saw a flock of about 30 circling overhead but that is the most for some weeks. Are they looking for a better food source? They disappeared before this really hard spell of weather.