By Eugene Daly
In an era when the population of many birds is falling, the crows seem to be holding their own. Crows are probably our most intelligent birds, they are very adaptable, and will eat anything edible.
There are forty species of corvus (crow) worldwide, seven of which can be found in Ireland. The birds that most of us know are rooks and the smaller jackdaw, renowned for making a nuisance of themselves by nesting in chimneys.
Jackdaws are smaller than rooks with a grey sheen on their heads and a self-confident swagger.
Rooks and jackdaws roost in woods. Across Leap estuary is Myross Wood; every evening the crows, in hundreds, gather on wires and make a great commotion before winging it across the estuary to roost.
Then there are the hooded or scald crows, which, with their distinctive black and grey colouring, are easy to spot. Dozens of them, have, for a long time, populated the estuary, feeding mainly on mussels which they drop on the road to crack the shells. For the last while they have moved inland and have ousted the more likeable rooks from our area.
Choughs are rare in Ireland and are only found in coastal areas. They are beautiful birds, with red legs and a red beak. They are beautiful to look at in flight, displaying a glorious display of their aerial skills.
Since they are found only on the south-west and north coasts of Ireland, Cornwall and Western Scotland, they are sometimes called the Celtic Crow.
Crows were associated with the triple Celtic war gods, Badhbh, Macha and the Morrigan.