The choughs have black plumage and brightly coloured legs, feet, and bills, and are resident in the mountains of southern Eurasia and North Africa. They have long broad wings and perform spectacular aerobatics. The sexes are similar, but the juvenile of each species has a duller bill and legs than the adult and its plumage lacks the glossiness seen in older birds. The chough is 39-40 centimetres (15-16 in) in length with a 73-90 centimetres (29-35 in) wingspan.

Habitat and Distribution

The choughs breed in mountains, from Morocco and Spain eastwards through southern Europe and the Alps, across Central Asia and the Himalayas to western China. The Alpine Chough is also found in Corsica and Crete, and the Red-billed Chough has populations in Ireland, the UK, the Isle of Man, and two areas of the Ethiopian Highlands. Both species are non-migratory residents throughout their range, only occasionally wandering to neighbouring countries.


They feed, usually in flocks, on short grazed grassland, taking mainly invertebrate prey, supplemented by vegetable material or food from human habitation, especially in winter.


Chough pair for life and display fidelity to their breeding sites, which are usually caves or crevices in a cliff face. They build a lined stick nest and lay three to five eggs.

Calls and Songs

The Red-billed Chough's loud, ringing chee-ow call is similar in character to that of other corvids, particularly the Jackdaw, although it is clearer and louder than the call of that species.