Rook (Corvus frugilegus)

The Rook is the most social of any of the crow family. They often feed and fly in large numbers and nest in woodland areas in a large group of tree top nests known as a Rookery.  Despite this a pair of birds will defend a territory around their nests and raid their neighbour’s nests for twigs. They can often be seen and heard gathering above the nest early in the morning and at dusk to depart and return from feeding. Rookeries can be in city parks and are long standing colonies ranging in size from a few nests to one recorded colony of over 9000 pairs!

They are easily distinguished from other British members of the crow family by their more pointed bill and a white bare patch at the base of the bill; in flight they have deeply slotted wings. During courtship the male bird feeds the female Rooks lay 3 to 6 greenish mottled brown eggs in March incubation takes about 18 days during which time the male again feeds the female. An adult is around 18 inches or 46cm in length, the sexes are identical although the young don’t have the white patches around the bill, in Autumn Rooks often tumble and twist in flight in a wild display but this behaviour doesn’t seem to be connected to courtship. Their diet is mainly grubs, seeds and the eggs of other birds but like most crows they are opportunists taking carrion, fruit and even the occasional shellfish. Rooks can be found throughout the UK and central and eastern Europe as well as Korea and Eastern China. In some rural parts of the UK Rooks have been shot as game, traditionally hung for several days and the several birds are used to make a pike or stew, little meat is found on the birds so several are needed for each recipe.