Webcam Jackdaws

Webcam Jackdaw Nest 2012

Picture made by Ardiana, www.kidswest.ch

The bird house in the castle tower had already been occupied by a grey jackdaw pair at the end of March and could already be observed. One could already appreciate seeing the successful nest and breeding at close range. The jackdaws carried finger-thick branches into the nest, which was repeatedly rearranged again and again. But as the time for laying the eggs came at the end of April, nothing happened with our jackdaws – no eggs! During the entire month of April, both birds were to be seen in the nest. At the end of April, one could often only see the smaller bird in the nest, the bigger, probably the male, was rarely there.

Then, in the middle of May, the castle guard reported that there was one egg in the nest and the female had been incubating it. Normally, the incubating female would be provided food by the partner. In our case, we were not able to observe that. Was our grey jackdaw a “single mom”? Was it a young or a weak female, who was not well-nourished enough to bring up several eggs?

On 6 June, the jackdaw female surprised us again. A hatchling emerged! The male was also there again and brought his female and his hatchling food. But on the 8th of June, there was a dramatic development. The castle guard noticed that the fledgling was no longer in the nest, and the female was looking for him. The fledgling, just a few days old, was unfortunately found beneath the bird house on the ground, dead. The nest stood empty, but the jackdaw pair was occasionally seen in the nest.

According to information from the Swiss Ornithological Institute, the spring of 2012 saw delays in many bird species, interruptions or even total losses in offspring broods. One of the reasons may have been the cold, wet weather in April. During the breeding season, the sex organ of the bird retracts and the production of further eggs is hampered. This may have been the reason why our female laid only one egg. This is also why replacements and second broods in raven breeds are so rare.

In late nesting jackdaws, breeding success is usually lower. The more experienced the jackdaw is at nesting in pairs, at breeding and feeding, the greater the chance that the young survive to fledge.

In 2011, the hatching in the webcam nest box was successful. On 21 April 2011, the female laid five eggs and, on the 22nd, a sixth egg, all six hatchling emerged from their shells in the period from 11 to 13 May and the three surviving young jackdaws flew out on 17 June.