Plumage black, glossed with blue: base of the bill (in the adult bird) denuded of feathers, and covered with a white scurf.

C. frugilegus, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. I. p. 110. Id. torn. III. p. 59. Rook, Mont. Orn. Diet. Selb. Illust. vol. I. p. 353. pl. 30. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. I. p. 85.

Dimensions

Entire length eighteen inches: length of the bill (from the forehead) two inches two lines, (from the gape) two inches four lines; of the tarsus two inches; of the tail seven inches five lines; from the carpus to the end of the wing twelve inches six lines: breadth, wings extended, three feet.

Description

Strongly resembling the C. Corone, but may always be distinguished in the adult state by the naked, scabrous, whitish skin surrounding the base of the bill, and by the entire absence of nasal feathers: plumage wholly black as in that species, but rather more glossy, reflecting rich tints of blue and violet-purple: bill not quite so strong, and of not so deep a black: colour of the feet similar. Young birds, on leaving the nest, have the base of the bill feathered as in the C. Corone, and the nostrils likewise covered by reflected bristles: in the course of the autumn these feathers fall off, and are not replaced by others. Varieties are occasionally met with entirely white, or pied, or with the tips of all the feathers whitish. (Egg). Ground colour pale green, nearly covered with blotches of dark greenish brown: long. diam. one inch eight lines; trans, diam. one inch two lines.

Common throughout the country, especially in cultivated districts. Of gregarious habits, breeding together, and likewise seeking food in large companies. Subsists principally on the grub of the cockchaffer, wire-worm, and other insects; but will occasionally devour corn, and, during the winter season, is very destructive to turnips. Builds early in March, and hatches in April. Nests crowded together at the tops of the tallest trees, composed principally of fresh twigs forcibly detached from the branches of the neighbouring trees, and lined with grass and fibrous roots. Eggs four or five in number.