Chough. Picture by Andrew Kelly

Choughs are about the size of a Jackdaw with glossy black plumage, bright red legs and down curved beak. Choughs are often heard before they are seen.


Ireland’s ‘commendable crow’


Choughs are a member of the crow family; however they do not share any of the bad habits associated with other Corvids and as such could be viewed as the ‘commendable crow’. In fact their one of favourite foods is a rather pernicious pest of grassland, lawns and root crops - the larvae of the Crane Fly or ‘daddy-long legs’ probably best known to gardens and farmers as ‘leather jackets’.



Choughs make for a truly engaging study species with their acrobatic antics often accompanied by sharp “chaaow” calls. They inhabit wind swept coastal regions of Ireland giving rise to the name ‘sea crow’ and this bird has lead the BirdWatch Ireland Chough Team to some of the most breath-taking scenery in the country.


The primary aim of the Chough Survey, a joint project of BirdWatch Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, is to undertake complete censuses of Ireland’s Chough population. All-Ireland Chough censuses have been conducted every 10 years since 1982 and the last census was conducted over two years, spanning 2002 and 2003. Please click here for some of the main findings. Comparison between censuses allows us to monitor changes in the populations. The next Chough census is scheduled for 2012 and volunteers who cover their local patch are a great asset to the Chough Team. It is never too early to get to know the Choughs in your area so that you are prepared for the census. Please click here for further details on Chough ecology.


Horn Head, Co. Donegal. Picture by Mike Trewby




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