Corvids – Rooks, Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies and Jays

Corvids are all part of the Corvidae family and are considered to be a pest bird species, all are on the general licence and subject to control methods, they are all prone to both injure or destroy songbirds or game bird nests and eggs, most are considered as an agricultural pest as they tend to congregate in very large communal numbers and can cause serious crop damage, or injury to livestock and consume huge amounts of animal foodstuff, they cause major health and safety issues in and around urban surroundings.

Rooks (Corvus frugilegus) very gregarious, frequently associates with jackdaws and nests communally in tall trees, they frequent mixed arable farmland, grassland with scattered woodland they are normally seen in large numbers and known to damage emerging and pre harvest cereal crops, will take other birds eggs and feed from dead or sick animals.

Crows (Corvus cornix) normally seen singly or in pairs, frequents farmland, moorland towns and parks Nests singly in trees, occurs throughout England Wales and southern Scotland. The most notorious damage caused by crows is to new born lambs by taking out their eyes, however this is usually when the lamb is either dead or seriously ill

Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) frequent inhabitant of farmland, sea cliffs, cathedrals castles, churches and derelict buildings, likes to nest on ledges, holes and in domestic chimney stacks. Jackdaws will nest in large numbers in city buildings and cause damage by contamination from droppings and blocked chimneys resulting in potential fire hazards.

Magpie (Pica Pica) is a large black and white bird with a long tail and easily distinguished from other corvids, usually found in small flocks, prefers areas with scattered trees and shrubs and recently becoming a common urban species, they nest in hedges or trees and build a characteristic large dome shaped nest. Will feed on carrion or take lambs eyes or small chicks.

Jay(Garrulus glandarius) the most colourful of the crow family, found across most of the UK, except northern Scotland. Usually frequent in deciduous and coniferous woodland, parks and mature gardens. Likes oak trees in autumn when there are plenty of acorns. Characteristic by its screeching call, they mainly feed on acorns, nuts, seeds and insects, but also eats eggs and nestlings of other birds and small mammals.


Corvids build substantial nests for their size consisting mainly of sticks, grasses and loose vegetation, each species differ in their nesting habits, however collectively they prefer cavities, voids or tall trees and buildings. All can damage game interests by taking the eggs and young of game birds and songbirds; they all eat grain and stock feed, and common scavengers at waste and refuse sites.

Who is affected by Corvids

  • Farms, Estates and Parkland due to crop damage
  • Golf clubs where they root for insects and crane fly larvae (leatherjackets)
  • Sheep and game farms, due to predation
  • Heritage sites and buildings, nesting and erosion
  • Landfill and waste sites, due to Environment Agency and local licensing
  • Airports due to nesting activity, flocking and possible airstrike risks

Corvids are generally not welcome on SSSI sites or areas of conservation where they take eggs from rare song birds or predate on small mammals, lizards and reptiles.


The Rook, Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie and Jay are all currently on the Natural England and Agriculture Departments general licence and may be taken or controlled by authorised persons at all times, for the stated reasons, using approved control measures. Ravens another member of the corvid family are not listed and are therefore fully protected, though specific licences can be applied for from the Agriculture Department to control this species in extreme cases, particularly in sheep protection.

Control Methods

Control measures can include trapping, shooting, nest destruction and a combined use of various scaring devices or techniques other more specialised methods are used in urban situations

  • Live predatory bird and Pest control using falcons and hawks
  • Bird proofing using netting or sprung wire or spiking installations
  • PVC strips to exclude from buildings
  • Scaring using noise or visual deterrents including laser bird control or flashing strobe lights
  • Bird scaring kites and helikites, although habituation to artificial methods is normally quite quick with no long term effect

Why MBC Bird and Pest Solutions

Because we have an ethical approach to all of our bird and pest control solutions we look to use non lethal or injurious methods of control whenever possible, our falconry response is unique and corvids being cautious are easily scared. Our technicians have been fully trained and have gained the necessary experience in the trapping of corvids, using both Larsen and traditional Ladder traps. We are fully conversant with the law and relevant Acts relating to their control. MBC Bird and pest solutions are fully equipped to deal with any pest or bird problem and always on hand to provide free site surveys prior to advising or carrying out pest control treatments.

We are BPCA and BASC trade members and each technician has gained the necessary experience required to deal with all pest problems for birds, rodents, deer, foxes, rabbits, moles or flying insects such as wasps, flies, ladybirds, mosquitoes and crawling insects like cockroaches, fleas, bed bugs and beetles.
Our areas of operation are Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton and all other areas of Dorset and Hampshire.