Although hardly the most loved of garden birds, Rooks are a now a familiar sight for many of us in our gardens. Often seen with Jackdaws, Rooks are easy to identify with their long pale grey bill with the colour extending onto the un-feathered base right up to the eye. Smart and resourceful, Rooks will find all sorts of way to get at food in feeders – including removing the feeder from a hook and dropping it onto the ground.
Rook diet and food
The Rook’s diet is very varied and includes seeds, grain, earthworms, large insects including beetles, human food waste, plus some carrion. Occasionally small mammals such as mice are taken, and even young birds. In the garden, Rooks will eat any type of bird food put out and in particular suet products which they’ll make very short work of – hence why caged feeders are often a necessity.
Rook nesting and breeding habits
Nesting takes place communally across a number of trees (larger trees will have a number of nests) and hence the name a ‘rookery’. Each individual nest is a large platform of twigs which may be added to in successive years, with the nests typically built high in the trees. There is one brood of 4-5 eggs per season which the female Rook incubates alone, with both parents feeding the young.
Behaviour traits of Rooks
Rooks demonstrate considerable intelligence and this can be observed at garden feeding situations. For example, they have been observed to manipulate hanging feeders in order to get at food, with this including pulling feeders up towards them when the feeder is hanging by string. Also, unhooking feeders from feeding stations and branches, dropping them on the ground, then gathering the seed. The species is also relatively sociable and not just with other Rooks, but regularly feeds in mixed flocks with Jackdaws and Starlings.
Rook history and population trends
The long term UK population trend for the Rook has been one of steady increase.