The Chough is the Pyrrhocorax genus of birds being
part of the Corvidae family (as well as the chough, the Corvidae family includes the Crow and related birds). Within the Pyrrhocorax genus there
are two species, the first being the Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax
pyrrhocorax) which is also known as the Cornish Chough, and the
second (featured on the next page) being the Alpine
Chough, (Pyrrhocorax graculus) also known as the Yellow-billed Chough.
The Cornish Chough has
a completely black or often black-blue steely shining plumage with blue
and greenish shades, a long red bill with a curved tip, and red legs. They
reach approximately 40 centimeters in length and up to 250 grams in weight.
Their wingspan is up to 80 cm. The young birds possess a shorter
and yellowy-orange bill.
The Red Billed Chough is
quite common in Europe and Asia. Their habitat covers the rocky cliffs
and mountains west of England, including the County of Corwall in the far
South West of England, from where the alternative name Cornish Chough comes.
They are also found in Spain, Iceland, France, Portugal, France as well
as the mountains of the Urals, Caucasus, Bhutan and the Atlas mountains.
In the Himalayas they can be found at a height of 2000 metres. In
the alps there are only approximately 40 breeding's pairs of Red-billed
or Cornish Chough, possible due to competition from the related Alpine
The long bills of the alpine
Cornish Chough are well-suited to picking out worms, insects and their
larvae. From rocky areas they take spiders, other crawling insects,
snails and other small animals. They also enjoy berries and seeds.
They are sociable birds and excellent fliers, sailing the air with ease
Between April to June approximately 3 to 6 eggs
are laid (normally around April in the case of birds inhabiting areas near
the sea, and in May in the case of those residing in mountainous
The nests are almost always built in inaccessible
places, for example high cracks in rocky columns or caves and are usually
in age-old breeding colonies. The nests are constructed by both the
adults. Most of the actual structural work is completed by the male,
using for such, woods and dry grass. On the inside the nest is richly
quilted by the female.
The incubation is entirely carried out by the female
and has a duration of 17-23 days. The male feeds the female in intervals
of 20 to 35 minutes during the incubation period . The young birds abandon
the nest 37 to 40 days after being born. The Cornish Chough can live
up to the age of 17 years old.
Shakespeare's expression, "russet-pated choughs"
in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", act III scene ii, has much exercised his
commentators. Some see in it that "pated" meant "patted" or footed (cf.
the heraldic croix patee), and that therefore it refers to this
bird with its red feet. Others maintain that "russet" did not necessarily
mean red, but was frequently used for grey, and accordingly that the Jackdaw
with its grey head was intended.