Cornish Choughs – Early Season Update

Cornish Choughs - Early Season UpdateCornish Choughs - Early Season Update

2018 early season update – a Baker’s dozen

Cornish Choughs - Early Season Update

Cornish Choughs – Early Season Update

Now the sun has been out for more than a couple of minutes these past few weeks it’s been easier to get a handle on where the choughs are at this breeding season. All last year’s six successful pairs have got through the winter and are well into their breeding routine at usual sites. Let’s just double that shall we for 2018? Yes, we are pleased to report that the chough team have been watching 16 pairs since early March and it’s looking like at least 13 of these already have young chicks, which is a real upward spike for the breeding population! Although we have no idea as yet how many chicks are in those nests, it should be more than in previous years.

Background

The red-billed chough, Cornish chough or simply chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), is a bird in the crow family, one of only two species in the genus Pyrrhocorax. Its eight subspecies breed on mountains and coastal cliffs from the western coasts of Ireland and Britain east through southern Europe and North Africa to Central Asia, India and China.

This bird has glossy black plumage, a long curved red bill, red legs, and a loud, ringing call. It has a buoyant acrobatic flight with widely spread primaries. The red-billed chough pairs for life and displays fidelity to its breeding site, which is usually a cave or crevice in a cliff face. It builds a wool-lined stick nest and lays three eggs. It feeds, often in flocks, on short grazed grassland, taking mainly invertebrate prey.

Although it is subject to predation and parasitism, the main threat to this species is changes in agricultural practices, which have led to population decline, some local extirpation, and range fragmentation in Europe; however, it is not threatened globally. The red-billed chough, which derived its common name from the jackdaw, was formerly associated with fire-raising, and has links with Saint Thomas Becket and Cornwall. The red-billed chough has been depicted on postage stamps of a few countries, including the Isle of Man, with four different stamps, and The Gambia, where the bird does not occur.

Although it is subject to predation and parasitism, the main threat to this species is changes in agricultural practices, which have led to population decline, some local extirpation, and range fragmentation in Europe; however, it is not threatened globally. The red-billed chough, which derived its common name from the jackdaw, was formerly associated with fire-raising, and has links with Saint Thomas Becket and Cornwall. The red-billed chough has been depicted on postage stamps of a few countries, including the Isle of Man, with four different stamps, and The Gambia, where the bird does not occur.

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