The jackdaw is a lively, small member of the crow family. It appears to have totally dark plumage from a distance, but on closer inspection it can be seen that it is dark grey in colour with a lighter grey back and sides of the neck, the eyes are a unique pale blue. The name comes from; ‘Jack’ which is often used for small animals, and, like knave, means rogue, yet it may also be derived from another call, ‘tchack’; ‘daw’ for this bird has been used since the 15th century; it is probably imitative of the call, but also means ‘simpleton’.
The jackdaw is a highly sociable species outside of the breeding season, occurring in flocks that can contain hundreds of birds Within flocks there is a strict hierarchy, with a head bird. Occasionally the flock makes ‘mercy killings’, in which a sick or injured bird is mobbed until it is killed.