Large member of the crow family. Plumage is black with a blue or purple sheen in bright light. Distinguishing feature that separates it from similar looking species is a white, featherless area on the face. Had black legs and feet, and a grey-black bill.
Far reaching geographic range across Europe and Asia. In north and central Europe, Iceland and parts of Scandinavia, rooks are regarded as resident all year round. In the north of its Asian range, rooks move south during the autumn. They have also been introduced into New Zealand, and considered an invasive pest.
High preference for agricultural land, fragmented woodlands and grasslands. Occasionally found in towns and cities, but mainly on the outskirts.
Like most corvids, rooks have a varied diet. Around 60% is of plant matter (cereals, potatoes, roots, fruit, nuts, berries and seeds), with the rest made up from animal material, mainly earthworms and invertebrates. In more urban areas they are known to take human food scraps from the streets and rubbish dumps.
Highly social with monogamous pairs staying together within flocks. These colonies (often mixed with jackdaws) are called rookeries, are seen in the evenings before the birds depart to their communal roosting site (normally a woodland area). Foraging is at ground level, probing the soil with their powerful bills in order to find food. Like all corvids, rooks are considered very intelligent; tool use has been seen in captive individuals however not in wild birds.
Rooks have a wide distribution within the UK, found across England Wales and Ireland. Only absent from north West Scotland and its islands.
Due to its heavy association with agricultural land, changes in populations can be linked to changes in agricultural land-use (loss of pasture land), pesticide use and persecution due to its pest status.
Did you know?
Traditionally surrounded by a lot of superstition. Rooks arriving in an area was deemed to be unlucky.