Worcestershire Record No. 26 April 2009 p. 35


Dave Cunliffe

I watched two Jackdaws (presumably a pair) with a walnut yesterday (18th March 2009). There is a walnut tree in a garden not far away and we frequently have empty walnut shells on our lawn. I thought it was due to grey squirrels, which we occasionally see. One Jackdaw flew down onto our lawn (in Hanley Swan) with a walnut in its beak. The second remained on a branch about six feet away, watching. The first bird positioned the nut on the grass with the "seam" uppermost and then, holding the nut with one foot, bashed it with its beak until the shell began to split. Meanwhile, the blows were forcing the nut into the lawn surface, perhaps making the nut easier to manage. Once the nut had split sufficiently, the bird inserted its beak and forced the shell open with further blows and leverages until the nut fell into two halves. It then began to eat the nut from one half while its "partner" flew down alongside and ate the other half quite amicably.

[Editor’s note. When I read the original of Dave’s comment on the Malvern bird egroup I was intrigued and after a little research wrote to him as follows: “I've look at BWPi and British Birds (100 years on disc, BBi) and have not found any direct reference to the behaviour you describe. In the vast collection of Notes published for many years in British Birds there is almost always reference to something you have seen and think is new! Not this time! However under the section on Food BWP does list walnuts and Jackdaws are well-known for holding food with a foot while they attack it. Also walnuts are now germinating or will be soon and presumably easier to break open when this happens”.

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