Choughs. Photo: Geoffrey Nicholas


Last updated: 18 January 2011

Often spotted living by the coast, the chough is the rarest member of the crow family.

The chough (pronounced 'chuff') is smaller than a rook and can be identified by its blue-black plumage and red bill, legs and feet.

Their Welsh name, brân goesgoch, literally means red-legged crow. There is only a small population of these birds in United Kingdom, with three quarters of the UK's population living in Wales.

The majority can be found on the west coast in Pembrokeshire, South Stack on Anglesey and in Snowdonia.

Agile in the air, the chough is known for its aerobatic, tumbling flight and has broad wings with feathers separated into 'fingers'.

Choughs make their homes in high coastal cliffs, quarries and wild landscapes and have a distinctively loud call of 'chee-ow', which is clearer and louder than the similar-sounding call of the jackdaw.

The bird is non-migratory and pairs tend to stay faithful to each other and to the area in which they nest. The main threat to the chough is decline in habitat due to changes in agricultural practices.

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