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Chough

Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

Cág cosdearg

Status: Resident along rocky coasts in Munster, as well as parts of Connaght and Ulster.

Conservation Concern: Amber-listed in Ireland. The European population has been evaluated as declining by BirdLife International, due to an ongoing moderate decline.

Identification: Marginally larger than the familiar Jackdaw, at 40 cm in length, in many respects the Chough looks like a typical all-black crow.  At close range, however, its unique long, down-curved red bill and bright red legs make identification easy; the Irish name of this species translates as “red-legged Jackdaw”.  Choughs also have more prominently “fingered” flight-feathers than our other crows, giving them a distinctive silhouette in the air.

Amongst our most accomplished aerobatic fliers, Choughs frequently swoop and soar in updrafts around cliffs, seemingly often just for fun.  So skilled are these natural stunt pilots that they will sometimes even fly upside down, perform barrel rolls, etc.

Call: A very distinctive “key-aww”

Diet: Feeds mostly on insects and their larvae, worms and other subterranean invertebrates, using their curved bills to dig them out of the soil.  They will also eat berries, grain, small mammals and birds and, in true crow fashion, pretty much anything else they can find.

Breeding
: Nests in caves or crevices along coasts, or less frequently, in old buildings.

Wintering
: Mainly local dispersal from breeding sites to favoured coastal areas.

Where to See
: The Dingle Peninsula and the Cliffs of Moher are reliable sites to see this species

Monitored by: Chough Survey.

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