Quick facts

Common names:
rook

Scientific name: Corvus frugilegus

Family: Corvidae (crows)

Habitat: farmland, grassland, open woodland

Diet: invertebrates, grain, fruit and acorns

Predators: birds of prey

Origin: native

What do rooks look like?

Rooks have all-black plumage, but an iridescent sheen is notable when seen up close. They are slightly smaller than crows, with a typical wingspan of 90cm. The species’ key identifying feature is the grey-white skin at the base of its long, pointed beak. This distinguishes it from the similar-looking carrion crow, which has an all-black beak.

Rook feeding young in nest

Credit: William Osborn / naturepl.com

What do rooks eat?

Worms, beetles and other invertebrates are the rook’s main food, which it catches by probing the ground with its large beak. It will also feed on grain, fruit, acorns and occasionally carrion and birds’ eggs.

Did you know?

Rooks are intelligent and have demonstrated the ability to use tools and solve problems.

How do rooks breed?

Rooks are communal breeders, nesting in colonies known as rookeries. Nests are built high in the trees and made of twigs and branches. These are broken off trees or stolen from a nearby nest. Some rookeries can contain thousands of birds, with their noisy calls making them easy to discover.

Rooks normally build their nests in February or March, but may start as early as January. We’re interested in learning whether climate change is affecting when rooks start nest building. Why not record your sightings of rooks gathering nesting materials to help us find out?

Typically, three to four eggs will be laid in spring, hatching after around two weeks. Chicks will stay in the nest for just over a month before fledging.

Rook flying with twigs

Credit: Nick Upton / naturepl.com

Where do rooks live?

The rook is a common bird with around one million pairs breeding each year. It occurs in farmland and open country across the UK, but is rare in mountainous areas and large towns and cities.

Did you know?

Rooks are often seen feeding alongside jackdaws, a smaller member of the crow family.

Signs and spotting tips

As large, noisy and social birds, rooks are easy to spot. Look for groups of black birds feeding in open fields and along roadsides. In winter, keep your eyes peeled for flocks flying above woodland as they come in to roost.

Rook call

Audio: James Bradley / xeno-canto.org

Threats and conservation

Widespread and numerous, rooks are not of conservation concern. However, a moderate decline in their numbers has been recorded since 1995.

Did you know?

Collective nouns for rooks include congregation, storytelling, building, parliament and clamour.