The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Jackdaws love nesting in our chimney

Photo: Jackdaws

Photo: Jackdaws

I was walking back to the car at dusk this evening and passed a very smart building with two smallish standard trees either side of the large front door. I spotted a neat nest of twigs in the branches, and a glimpse of a tail feather. A pigeon was sitting on the nest, she looked incongruous like a miniature partridge in a pear tree on a noisy, dirty road in Newmarket.

We have two similar nests of twigs in our garden built by the wood pigeons. More Laura Ingalls Wilder than chic Frank Lloyd Wright, they are still beautifully made and seem to withstand storms and torrential rain. Einstein’s nest was in the willow tree at the front of the house. The other pair of cottage woodpigeon nest in an apple tree in our tiny orchard.

I love seeing nesting birds. With one exception. The jackdaws that return each year to nest in the chimney over our wood burning stove. The chimney is so high that It would need a brave man with a crane to put a cowl on the top. When the jackdaws do successfully nest they drop 8 dustbin liners of twigs down the chimney. Thousands of hours must be spent on the wing, collecting the materials for their nest. It takes the guts of a day to clear it when they finally leave in September.

This year we have got so into our wood burning stove that we were primed for their return. A slow fire is almost constantly alight in the stove. When it dies down between the hours of midnight and five am they return to drop twigs down the chimney. It’s a battle that I’m determined to win this year. We now use this chimney for smoking our bacon and ham. And beside this, I love a warm fire in the evening when I return from work.

So at the moment we are at war. I hear them chatting and the occasional clunk of a twig dropping down onto the plate above the stove. Mrs J sits on the television aerial while Mr J collects the footings for the nest. Meanwhile I light a fire below. The twigs that they toss down make great kindling. We’ve been battling for three weeks now and I haven’t seen them for a couple of days. I hope that they’ve finally got the message that their B&B has been replaced by a working fire and home smoking zone.

They are welcome to set up home in the second chimney – we won’t use the inglenook until the autumn – but they are sniffy and won’t even consider it. Despite it being rent free with no smoke or even council tax.

  Leave a reply


  1. Jacqueline Howorth

    I have a jackdaws nest in the chimney – discovered when having new fire installed. Work has had to stop as there are 3 chicks in the nest. Does anyone know, on average, how long it is before I can have the nest removed. They’ve made a right old mess in my chimney!

  2. My jackdaws ripped the mesh from the 2 chimneys and attempted to build again. Every morning at 6 they laugh down the chimney into my bedroom and they work fast! So this year i am keeping that stove lit thru night and at 6am i stoke it and add a few chunks of peat and a couple of sprigs of juniper for smoke. Not great for thd flue but i will have it cleaned after summer. The open fire… My word, they do pile down the soft twigs!!! Anyone know what twigs? Oak? Anyway, until i can get someone to replace the mesh there so high i have rammed my own chimney brush right up and left it there! 🙂
    I adore jackdaws i really do. But i have my own wood for burning and dont want to be switching the central heating on! Nothing like a fire on a dummers eve anyway 🙂

  3. Birds do not like loud noises, I bought a device for my wife to use in an emergency to call me in from the garden its called AlarmCaller,
    and I have driven off jackdaws by placing the unit as high as possible in the chimney, waiting till the birds are in the chimney, then pressing the button on the remote supplied, it is a very loud alarm and after a couple of blasts they left! (block the face of the movement detector first)
    here is the link:
    good luck!

  4. Got a mate to put a metal cage over the chimney pot, they keep coming and looking at it ! Not as cruel as dismantling their nest every year

  5. This would explain why we had a jackdaw in our wood burner last night. At first I thought we had rat in the wood burner however it proved to be a jackdaw. We thought it had delusions of being santa. Managed to catch him and let him go however not before he took a mighty fine peck on my hand.

  6. Hi All – Apparently jackdaws and crows enjoy the smoke from the lovely fire below. It keeps the parasites out of their feathers, much like a dust bath, this is why they keep returning. I love Nature! : )

  7. wadey

    I’ve just cleared our chimney by chopping out some bricks in the loft, eight bucketfulls of twigs each between 9 and 12 inches long and now just two weeks later the stove has started to smell again, yes you’ve guessed it, twigs everywhere, have told Lynn to leave the fire ’til the Autumn

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Alex

    Jackdaws are scavengers that eat meat. Say no more.

    Poor doves.

  9. My neighbour has two pairs of jackdaws nesting in two of her chimneysand have done for a number of years. Can anyone tell me please do jackdaws steal young birds from other nesting birds? There was a terrific “kerfuffle” this afternoon between two doves, who are nesting in a tree nearby, and a jackdaw, and I wondered if it had raided the nest.

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jo

    It’s a nightmare. Poor you. Once they get accustomed to a chimney they will literally fight to the death when generations of the family return in the spring to claim the ancestral home.

    Hope that you are not invaded this year.

    Hello Rosie

    I didn’t know that starlings like to nest in chimneys. They are real bullies – the little birds don’t get a look in when they muscle up to the feeders.

    Hi Lindsay

    That must have been a real drama for your father.

    We had a chimney fire many years ago when we hadn’t realised that the jackdaws has nested in the chimney. The fire brigade came but we were OK as it was contained in the chimney. Since then I’ve been much more diligent about cleaning the chimneys.

    Great idea using the flag etc on your satellite dish. If we develop wings we might be able to construct something on the chimney. Until then we have a trickling fire in the wood burner. It does make the kitchen very warm and inviting ?

    Hello Liz

    Let’s hope that they fly out rather than drop down this year.

    Hi Terry

    It’s not sad. I was intrigued – and wondered whether Teyrr was a Celtic or Norwegian name.

    £2000 of damage. The bird must have made headlines in the Jackdaw equivalent of The Times.

    How odd about the blackbirds?

    Hi Carol

    That’s a really feel good comment. I used to like hearing the jackdaws chatting when we didn’t use the wood burner. They do make a huge racket especially when the young ones start bawling for food. But this year they are not welcome. They have the option of moving to the other chimney or finding somewhere else.

    Hi Zoe

    You are very kind to let the jackdaws nest in your chimney.

    They take a long time to mature. The fledglings unwillingly leave the nest in September at the cottage. They don’t have a quick turn around like smaller birds.

    Let’s hope that we have a very warm summer and you don’t need your gas fire.

    Hi Kate(uk)

    I like the sound of wood pigeons. Even if it reverberated down the chimney. I hate the plop boing scrape sound of twigs being dropped down the chimney by the workaholic Jackdaws. Grrrrrrrr 🙂

    Hello Andreas

    So you are a chimney sweep. You must be called out to tackle this problem a lot. Poor you, what a palaver.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,234,256 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder