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Do British rooks migrate?

Rooks are highly gregarious birds and are generally seen in flocks of various sizes. Rooks obtain most of their food by probing the ground, which explains that rooks are migrants in some areas of the country, especially in those areas where winter feeding is impossible due the ground being frozen. This also applies to mountaineous areas or dense woodland areas, as rooks prefer open lowland countryside with plenty of trees. The winter and breeding season distribution and abundance pattern of residential rooks are remarkbly similar, which is due to the largly sendentary nature of this species here in the UK. Breeding birds from Asia and north-east Europe move south and west in winter, more obviously in cold winters. Our resident rooks are joined during winter by birds from the Baltic, especially in the east. Interestingly, the pattern of roosting in the area, where of flocks of migrant rooks spend their winter in the UK, is often the same area resident birds are using. The only difference seems to be that the migrant birds go directly to the communal roost, whilst resident birds collect at their residential rookery and move then on to the communal roost. Flocks increase in size in autumn with different groups amalgamating and birds congregating at dusk before roosting, often in very large numbers, and regularly in the company of jackdaws. Roosting usually takes place in woodland or plantations, but a small minority of birds may continue to roost at their rookery all winter.

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