Carrion Crow – 2003-07 breeding

Corvus corone – BRAN DYDDYN – Breeding resident.

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed390354
Breeding probable2251
Breeding possible4748
No of tetrads occupied459 (of 478)453 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads96%92.4%

The all black appearance of the Carrion Crow means it is easily confused with the Rook. The curved bill and lack of a bare throat differentiates it from the Rook, as does the call and keeping its nest in a discrete territory rather than in a colony. The bulky stick nest, placed high in a tree, is usually conspicuous before leaves appear. In Pembrokeshire they also nest on cliff ledges.

The estimate that accompanied the 1984-88 survey was based on the distances between nests in a small number of random localities. With no other information available at the time, this was used to calculate a county total breeding population of 18,000–21,000 pairs. With the benefit of hindsight this is now considered to be an inflated total. The 1988-91 National Atlas showed Pembrokeshire contained Carrion Crows at maximum abundance and if their UK average density is adjusted to allow for this, suggests a county population of about 10,000 pairs, which seems realistic. The 2003-07 survey found no marked difference in distribution from the 1984-88 survey, so there has probably been no change in the size of the population.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the Carrion Crow in Pembrokeshire

Carrion Crow – 1994

Corvus corone – BRAN DYDDYN – Breeding resident

Map produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre
1984-88
Breeding confirmed390
Breeding probable22
Breeding possible47
No of tetrads occupied459 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads96%

Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949) agreed that the Carrion Crow was a common resident.

They were formerly persecuted throughout Pembrokeshire: 134 were killed on the Cawdor Estate at Stackpole in 1821 (Carmarthen County Records Office, Box 1-234) and Lloyd counted 150 on a gibbet at Slebech in 1930. Although still sometimes shot by game preservers and shepherds, they are now largely unmolested.

They breed over a wide area, mostly in trees but also on cliff ledges, and have occupied most of the offshore islands (see map). They used to breed on Ramsey, but were eradicated, at least temporarily, by trapping during the 1980s, and have declined at Skomer, perhaps due to increased competition for food and nest sites from Magpies. The distances between nests were noted in a number of areas of the county during 1986 and 1987 and used to estimate an average density of 40-45 pairs per tetrad, suggesting a county population of 18,000-21,000 pairs.

Groups of non-breeding birds, sometimes up to 100 strong, gather on the estuaries during the summer to feed on shellfish, notably at Fowborough and the Gann. This habitat is also utilised by family parties after the breeding season and throughout the winter, when up to 200 may gather.

Lockley (1957) stated that roosting flocks of up to 100 were common in Pembrokeshire but most modem records refer to 60 or less, though 208 were counted gathering at Dowrog in November 1988.

They are perhaps partial migrants, judging by records of birds overflying remote offshore areas such as the Smalls or flying in or off the sea at headlands, and a nestling ringed at Bardsey was later found in north Pembrokeshire.

Hooded Crows, which occur most years on the islands of Ramsey, Skokholm and Skomer, or at the coast in localities such as Fishguard Harbour, St David’s, Solva and Martin’s Haven, undoubtedly come from elsewhere, most likely from Ireland. They have turned up in every month and individuals have sometimes made prolonged stays. One which wintered at Fishguard Harbour in 1986/87 was seen displaying in the spring and may have attempted to breed.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

LOCKLEY, R.M. 1957. Pembrokeshire. London, Robert Hale

More about the Carrion Crow in Pembrokeshire

Carrion Crow – 1980s winter

Corvus corone – BRAN DYDDYN – Breeding resident

The BTO winter atlas showed that Carrion Crows were present in all 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 130 birds.

However, it should be noted that the figures show a high correlation with the number of recording cards returned (therefore related to recording effort) for each 10km square. 

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Data collected by volunteers for the BTO. Lack, P. 1986 Atlas of wintering birds in Britain and Ireland. T & A.D. Poyser.

More about the Carrion Crow in Pembrokeshire

Carrion Crow – 1894

Corvus corone – A common resident.

In the “mountain” parts of the county this destructive and mischievous bird is so numerous as to be quite a pest. He is always thieving, and on the watch for newly dropped lambs, young rabbits, wounded game, eggs of all kinds, chickens, &c. Great used to be our indignation at finding throughout the spring freshly sucked Pheasants’ eggs lying everywhere about our covers. From the bare district around us the Crows would gather in our plantations at the nesting season, vexing our ears all day long with their discordant croaks. We never left them alone, and it was only when the nest was so successfully concealed as to escape our search that the black marauders were able to bring out a brood. When the young are first out of the nest they keep together for some weeks, and are then to be easily approached and shot.

One spring we took over twenty nests in our small plantations, and had a grand series of seventy Crows’ eggs as the result. One nest, cleverly hidden in an ivy-covered tree, was detected owing to the shells of Pheasants’ and Moorhens’ eggs, more than a dozen lying on the ground beneath. Most of these eggs still contained the whites, showing that it is the yolk only that the old birds carry in their beaks to their precious young. A Crow’s nest is a veritable fortress, constructed of such a mass of sticks and twigs as to be quite impenetrable to shot if it is fired up at from below. It is closely and thickly lined with sheep’s wool, and is such a perfect nest as to be gladly adopted by various other birds when they have the chance, such as Brown Owls, Kestrels, Sparrow Hawks, &c. Carrion Crows are devoted parents.

Cunning as they are in keeping out of danger at other times, we have frequently had them fly boldly up to our gun when we have been near the nest containing their fledgelings. In dry weather in the middle of the summer we used to see the Crows searching the shallows of the Cleddy for fresh water mussels and small trout. In a long continued drought they suffered severely, and numbers would be found lying about dead.

In his district, Mr. Dix states that they went by the name of the “Farmers’ Crow,” and were terribly destructive, particularly to the young lambs of the mountain sheep, and adds: ” It is surprising how quickly they kill them; stealing upon them when asleep they effect their object by first tearing the eye out, and by repeated blows through the socket. They generally attack the young and weakly lambs.” When we were on Skomer we were informed by Mr. Vaughan Davies that the eggs were taken from a Carrion Crow’s nest on the island, and were replaced by the eggs of one of the farm-yard Pullets, and that in due time these substituted eggs were all hatched out by the Crow, and the Chickens then taken from the nest were all black. As there were no black Fowls upon the island at the time this was regarded as a prodigy, due to the agency of the Crows !

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Carrion Crow in Pembrokeshire

Carrion Crow

Corvus corone – BRAN DYDDYN – Breeding resident.

Carrion Crow – 2003-07 breeding

Corvus corone – BRAN DYDDYN – Breeding resident. Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 390 354 Breeding probable 22 51 Breeding possible 47 48 No of tetrads occupied 459 (of 478) 453 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 96% 92.4% The all black appearance of the Carrion Crow means it is easily confused with […]

Carrion Crow – 1994

Corvus corone – BRAN DYDDYN – Breeding resident 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 390 Breeding probable 22 Breeding possible 47 No of tetrads occupied 459 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 96% Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949) agreed that the Carrion Crow was a common resident. They were formerly persecuted throughout Pembrokeshire: 134 were killed on the Cawdor […]

Carrion Crow – 1980s winter

Corvus corone – BRAN DYDDYN – Breeding resident The BTO winter atlas showed that Carrion Crows were present in all 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 130 birds. However, it should be noted that […]

Carrion Crow – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

Carrion Crow – 1894

Corvus corone – A common resident. In the “mountain” parts of the county this destructive and mischievous bird is so numerous as to be quite a pest. He is always thieving, and on the watch for newly dropped lambs, young rabbits, wounded game, eggs of all kinds, chickens, &c. Great used to be our indignation at finding throughout the spring […]