[order] Passeriformes | [family] Corvidae | [latin] Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax | [UK] Chough | [FR] Crave à bec rouge | [DE] Alpenkrähe | [ES] Chova piquirroja | [IT] Gracchio corallino | [NL] Alpenkraai

Alpenkraai determination

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Red-billed Chough has bright blue black plumage, with green sheen on wings. Wings are long with long primaries. Eyes are black. Down curved bill is red and slender. Legs and feet are red, with black claws. Both sexes are similar. Juvenile is duller than adults, with yellow orange bill.
Red-billed Chough performs a superb and very graceful flight. It likes to play in thermal currents, performing vertiginous dives and acrobatic swoops. It soars effortless, and rises with the wind, crossing contrary winds to stop before diving with strong wing beats to get good speed. Then, it glides easily, and slewing its wide tail, it turns into the wind and rises again rapidly, performing a close turn while it goes forwards drifting slightly on the side. It is the only bird in the world able to perform this aerial display.
Red-billed Chough feeds on maritime heaths and pastures at the top of cliffs. When on ground, it may walk, hop or run quickly on short distance. It is a gregarious species, and they gather in groups to feed in short grassy areas. They are often seen in pairs or in small flocks, but also in large groups of hundreds of birds. Each group has a hierarchy, and birds may live and feed together without any problem. Young need 2 to 3 years within a group to get their own status, with some aggressive but rarely important fights. When food resources are reduced, dominant birds are able to find food enough, in order to survive and breed successfully. During breeding season, Red-billed Chough pair defends strongly its territory, chasing away any intruder able to threaten the nest site. If a predator comes too close, choughs perform spectacular aerial displays, to defend young still dependent within the group.

Red-billed Chough breeds in high mountains and coastal cliffs, but with adjacent short grass pastures. It is also found in grassy and cultivated areas with rocky crags.

Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax is resident in parts of Britain and Ireland and across much of southern Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global range. Its European breeding population is relatively small (<110,000 pairs), and underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. Although populations were stable across much of its European range during 1990-2000, key populations in Spain and Turkey declined, and the species underwent a moderate decline (>10%) overall.
This bird has a discontinuous distribution in southern Europe and Central Asia, from Turkey to China. Small populations also inhabit the Canary islands, Morocco and Ethiopia. It is breeding in low-lying mountainous regions and along rocky coasts. The population of the European Union amounts to 14000 breeding pairs, but in most regions it is declining

Red-billed Chough feeds on terrestrial invertebrates, mainly ants, insects and larvae. They also consume seeds and berries in winter. Coastal birds also eat crustaceans and molluscs.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 86,000-210,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified; there is evidence of a population decline (Madge and Burn 1993), but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Red-billed Chough's nest is a bulky loose structure, made with twigs and roots, linked by mud. This nest is lined with soft materials such as wool and hair. It is located in rocky crevices or cavities, or on ledges of cliffs, or buildings, but also in mountain caves. Both parents take part in nest building. Female lays, in March to May, 3 to 5 pale buffy, creamy or green eggs, with various brown and grey markings. Incubation lasts about 17 days, and female starts to incubate when the first egg is laid. She is often fed by the male while she sits on the nest, but sometimes, she joins its mate to feed with it and a small group. Altricial chicks are tended and brooded by female the first ten days. She gives them small bits of food brought by the male. When young reach 5 to 7 days of age, male feeds them with female. Parents regurgitate invertebrates to feed them. When young reach their complete plumage, at about 38 days of age, they shelter into individual hidden places near to the nest, from where they rush out with noise to be fed by adults. One week later, young follow the adults and learn how to feed themselves. They become independent one month later, but they remain in the family group until the next breeding season. These young may help their parents to raise the chicks of the following clutch the next year. They reach their sexual maturity at 2 to 3 years.

Mainly sedentary. Recorded far from breeding areas only exceptionally. During cold winters but it may reach lower altitudes.