Average lifespan: 7 years
When to seeJanuary to December
AboutThe chough lives on short, grazed grassland and coastal heathland where it probes the ground with its long, red bill for insects, such as leatherjackets and beetle larvae. Acrobatic in flight, it has a 'chee-ow' call which is similar to, but louder than, the Jackdaw's. Chough build nests in small colonies in crevices and fissures, on rock ledges and cliff faces, and even in abandoned buildings. They use roots, stems and heather, and line the nest with wool or hair. The female lays three to five eggs and both parents help to raise the chicks
How to identifyA small, glossy black crow, the chough is easily distinguished from the similar Jackdaw by its long, curved, red bill, red legs and entirely black plumage.
In our area
An exciting part of our new Wilder Kent vision is the reintroduction of species lost from Kent. The first of these took a step closer in spring 2019 as staff met with colleagues from Wildwood Trust, the Cornish Operation Chough, Durrell Wildlife Trust, University of Kent, Kent Downs AONB, White Cliffs Countryside Partnership and English Heritage to discuss the reintroduction of chough to Kent. We were very fortunate to have such expertise available to us as we met at Dover Castle and considered possible release sites and habitat requirements for these amazing, charismatic birds along the iconic White Cliffs of Dover.
These aerobatic corvids feed on invertebrates in animal dung and we believe the conservation grazing to restore chalk grassland in and around Dover makes for the perfect habitat, including our Kent Wildlife Trust Herdwick sheep grazing the castle defences.
You can currently see chough in Kent, on the Canterbury City coat of arms, and read of them ‘winging the midway air’ of the white cliffs in King Lear, these birds are both culturally and ecologically significant to Kent and we are very excited about the prospect of seeing them once again flying over the Kent coastline in the near future.