Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Rooks are back in the Rookery!

Old "baggy trousers"!
The Rooks are back at their nests high up in the trees of “my” local rookery!  How utterly reassuring it is each year that they return, on almost the very same date in late February, to once more argue and fight over the best nest sites.

The plumage of the Rook is all black, although in certain lights it has a reddish or purplish gloss to the feathers; however, around the base of its beak, including the nostrils and chin, there is bare, white skin. This is one of the distinguishing features that separate it from the Carrion crow, although Rooks also have long feathered legs, making them look as though they are wearing baggy trousers!

If you happen to have a spare half hour or so in the next few weeks, try watching the goings on in your local rookery as you will see the life of the rook played out before your very eyes! I have to say, I always think that there are many human traits to be observed in a busy rookery!

I expect that after the recent gales we have been experiencing, many nests will have been blown from the tops of the trees, so that most pairs will have to start building from scratch. All Rooks, whether they are starting off a new nest or still find some remains left from last year, need to keep an eye on the foundations of their new home, as other Rooks will quickly descend and dismantle the new nest, freely taking twigs to create their own home.

Fights, squabbles, posturing, sex, shouting, tiffs and lots of unacceptable behaviour reigns in the rookery. But eventually nests are completed and for a while the rookery settles down a little as eggs are laid and incubation starts. But this uneasy peace does not last, because before long noisy chicks add their raucous calls to the general mayhem and life in the tree top rookery continues in its typically boisterous fashion.

Eastenders and Coronation Street – eat your heart out – you have nothing on the goings on in a rookery!!

If you want to read a little more on Rooks – click on the “Species of the month” tab on the left of this page and go to November 2009.   

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