An iconic Carneddau bird

The chough (pronounced ‘Chuff’), or ‘Brân Goesgoch’ (meaning ‘red-legged crow’ in Welsh), is the rarest member of the crow family and can be found nesting on high, coastal cliffs, in quarries and abandoned buildings. Adult chough have a large wingspan of around 80cm. They can live for up to 24 years!
Myths & legends
Another name for the bird in Welsh is ‘Brân Arthur’. Legend has it that the soul of King Arthur departed this world in the form of a Chough, with its red legs and bill signifying Arthur’s violent and bloody end.
Declining habitats
The biggest threat to the chough population is a decline in habitat due to changes in land use. We are helping combat this by monitoring their movements, numbers and the quality of their habitat.
Quarrymen’s pets
Quarry workers in Bethesda and Penmaenmawr often kept choughs as pets in the late-18th and early-19th centuries. During this time, choughs were incredibly popular cage birds and exhibition curators would routinely visit quarrying areas across the country.

The chough is an very social bird that keeps in constant contact with its companions. You can often hear its unique call “cheee-ow, cheee-ow” as you walk on the Carneddau’s uplands.

Almost 30% of the UK’s chough population can be found in north-west Wales, with the Carneddau upland pastures offering a vital feeding habitat. We are tracking the chough population to better understand their ecology and habitat usage through the year. This information is important as it will inform future conservation plans for the species. A chough’s diet mainly consists of soil, ground and dung-dwelling invertebrates, but the birds can also be found eating seeds and sometimes berries. In winter, choughs will often head to the coastline to feed on sand dunes and beaches when food can be harder to find on pasture.

A red billed Chough in flight
What are we doing?

With the help of volunteers, our scrub vegetation clearance project is creating more open feeding grounds for the chough at key locations across the Carneddau. 

Local people can help to identify and monitor the chough and invertebrates. Special training for volunteers can help us collect further data on chough numbers and their feeding behaviour. 

Contractors are also monitoring chough numbers by using GPS tags to map their activity across the Carneddau. Through our webcam installations at nesting sites, the live feed is being used to raise awareness of this rare bird.

Why is this important?

The Chough is the rarest breeding crow in the UK. It has been identified as a priority species by the Welsh Government. One of the main threats facing these birds is the loss of suitable habitat at traditional foraging sites. More people are needed to help identify these birds on the Carneddau uplands as better records of this species will help to inform future conservation plans.

How can you get involved?

Learn more about the threats the Chough face from RSPB.

Learn how to identify a Chough and some key information at RSPB.

Check out our Events page for activities and events.

Check out our Training page for training opportunities.

Learn more about the threats the Chough face from RSPB.

Check out our Events page for activities and events.

Learn how to identify a Chough and some key information at RSPB.

Check out our Training page for training opportunities.