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The Thieving Jackdaw

Wednesday, 10th January 2001, West Yorkshire

crows A MIXED flock of Jackdaws and Crows flies across the valley-side pastures where sheep and a few bullocks graze. The Jackdaws, as usual, are calling. I would have assumed that the bird was named after it's call - 'tchack!' - but the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary explains that one of the meanings of 'jack' is a smaller version of an animal or bird, for example the Jack Snipe.

jackdaws The old dialect name Caddow and the north country name kae seem to derive from its call. Jackdaws are notorious for their thieving habits and, perhaps because of this, daw became a term for 'a simpleton; a lazy person; a slattern'. In Thomas Ingoldsby's tale The Jackdaw of Rheims (1840), the bird is cursed for stealing the cardinal's ring.

Yellowhammer In a bush by the rushy field, five male Yellowhammers perch like a - scattered - bunch of bananas.

On our walk down the Balk lane we also see a pair of Chaffinches and a Greenfinch. These finches bring welcome colour to the winter hedgerows. In the wood, it's Great Tits and Blue Tits that add local colour. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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