Living in a beautiful 17th Century thatched cottage in a picturesque village is lots of people's idea of a high quality of life.

But for one woman, vandals have been causing her misery.

Mrs Dillistone spent 16,000 having the roof of her cottage in Uffington, Oxfordshire re-thatched last year, only for a group of vandals to come along and take away the thatch's outer layer.

But these aren't your ordinary vandals. The culprits are jackdaws who have been plucking out the thatch, leaving two big craters on the roof.

The jackdaw is a member of the crow family and lives in Europe, western Asia and North Africa.

Britain has more thatched buildings than any other country in Europe.

Jackdaw vandals blamed for plucking 16,000 thatched roof to piece

By Daily Mail Reporter
17th August 2009
Daily Mail

A flock of Jackdaws has been blamed for leaving the thatched roof of a 17th Century cottage in ruins.

Proud homeowner Lucy Dillistone, 74, spent 16,000 having the roof of her semi-detached property in Uffington, Oxfordshire, re-thatched last year.

But she has had to watch helplessly as the mischievous birds gradually plucked away the thatch's outer layers to expose the fresh straw beneath.

The roof is now covered in huge yellow patches.

Enlarge Damaged: A flock of Jackdaws has been blamed for plucking the thatched roof of a 17th Century cottage, leaving it in ruins

Mrs Dillistone contacted various experts to try and solve the problem, which is thought to be the first incident of its kind in the country.

Dismay: Homeowner Lucy Dillistone spent 16,000 re-thatching her Oxfordshire cottage last year

The retired medical research assistant said: 'My beautiful thatch is completely ruined by these birds. I've got two big craters in the roof and they are a real eyesore.

'I thought the straw had blown off the farm carts that go past my house. But gradually I began seeing more and more.

'I noticed some jackdaws hanging about. It was only after creeping downstairs at 5.30am in my dressing gown, that I confirmed they were behind the problem.

'I saw about five of them. However, they didn't stay long enough for me to observe what exactly they were doing.'

She added: 'It's all rather mystifying. Nobody knows why this is happening or quite what to do about it.

'It has been getting worse and something has to be done about it. I cannot just let it carry on.'

Mrs Dillistone contacted three thatchers and emailed them photos of the damage but each one of them said they had never seen or heard of anything like it before.

One of the thatchers she contacted was Barney Bardsley , 60, owner of Bardsley and Brown thatching firm, based in Newbury.

Mr Bardsley said: 'It's very unusual. I have come across about four occasions where woodpeckers have attacked roofs, but I have never seen anything like this.

Culprit: A flock of Jackdaws is thought to be responsible for the damage

'The extent of the damage that has been done is a total mystery.

'One theory surrounding the cause of the problem was that when the roof was re-thatched it may have contained grubs which jackdaws eat.'

Mr Bardsley said he planned to take netting off the roof, clear any loose straw, repair the large craters caused by the jackdaws, fill in the holes and put the netting back as tightly as possible. He hopes this will hold the thatch in place.

He added: 'Because I have never seen this before, it really is a case of "suck it and see".'

The jackdaw is a dark-plumaged passerine bird in the crow family found across Europe, western Asia and North Africa.

They forage for small insects in open areas and on the ground, but do take some food in trees.


jackdaws have a pecking order.
- lisa, england

Got a shotgun, lady? Blast 'em!
- Sabina, Plymouth, Michigan, USA

Got a shotgun, lady? Blast 'em!
Sabina, Plymouth Michigan, USA,

Is that your answer to every thing in the US?
These birds don't realise they are doing wrong, get real!
- Angelina Ballerina, Essex UK

erm! I thought this was why they put wire netting over the rooves. There are less barbaric ways of dealing things other than shooting animals you know.
- gill, Italy,

There's some sort of food in there, that's the only reason any wild creature expends this level of energy.
- Stephen Brown, Selsey, England