Tag: birds

Birds of Bikaner Rajasthan

A farmer with a bird in Rajasthan
Spotted Asian Owlet, Birds of Bikaner, Rajasthan
Spotted Asian Owlet
Steppe Eagle
Steppe Eagle
Indian Roller
Indian Roller aka the bird mafia, very aggressive little guy
Red breasted bulbul -beautiful song, Birds of Bikaner
Red breasted bulbul -beautiful song
Steppe Eagle
Steppe Eagle
A young red winged lapwing

A young red winged lapwing

Southern Grey Shirke -kills bees by impaling them on thorns.
Southern Grey Shirke -kills bees by impaling them on thorns.
The Desert gerbil -fast food for the birds, Birds of Bikaner
The Desert gerbil -fast food for the birds

Source: The Birds of Bikaner, Rajasthan – 19th January 2015 | The Jalebi Express

Awesome birds of Bikaner, Rajasthan.

In the company of crows and ravens

The book I have read recently is ‘In the Company of Crows and Ravens’ written by John Marzluff, Tony Angell, Paul R. Ehrlich is quite interesting. As Laurence A. Marshall states that “If corvids could read … they would surely find this book as entertaining and instructive as this human does”. The book focuses on the influences of people on crows’ lives throughout history and how crows have transformed human lives considerably.

Image courtesy- Amazon.com
Image courtesy Amazon.com

The book has excellent sketches and some great stories which are enlightening and fascinating. I found Mark Twain’s interesting description of the species in this book which is as follows-
“In the course of his evolutionary promotions, his sublime march toward ultimate perfection, he has been a gambler, a low comedian, a dissolute priest, a fussy woman, a blackguard, a scoffer, a liar, a thief, a spy, an informer, a trading politician, a swindler, a professional hypocrite, a patriot for cash, a reformer, a lecturer, a lawyer, a conspirator, a rebel, a royalist, a democrat, a practicer and propagator of irreverence, a meddler, an intruder, a busybody, an infidel and a wallower in sin for the mere love of it. The strange result, the incredible result, of this patient accumulation of all damnable traits is, he does not know what sorrow is, he does not know what remorse is, his life is one long thundering ecstasy of happiness, and he will go to his death untroubled, knowing that he will soon turn up again as an author or something, and be even more intolerably capable and comfortable than ever he was before.” (Mark Twain contemplates his nemesis, the Indian House Crow).

Truly, that sums up a description of a crow. There are many species of crows, each with their own distinctive sizes, shapes, behaviours and voices. In the broader sense, the ‘crows’ comprises of crows, ravens, jackdaws and rooks.

Cultural coevolution John Marzluff and Tony Angell have stated that cultural coevolution with crows is unique. They have evolved in response to many aspects of the natural world. Crows learn from us what is useful to them. Crows affect human culture more than many of the other wild species like pigeons, starlings, squirrels, etc. because crows and people share fundamental biological and social properties. Human culture and crow appear to evolve together in mutual understanding, for example, a crow tiptoeing outside my window. When birds exert this influence on each other in this manner then it is termed as coevolution. Crows are clever problem solvers with their complex social lives, culture and communication. Their influences on the humans are far stronger than one can imagine.

Another interesting aspect that I came across in this book is in chapter 5 –The social customs and cultures of crows. It mentions about how crows play. “Crows and ravens often soar on windy days for hours on end in apparent play. They get lift from wind’s energy and ascend to perform loops, rolls and dives.” The authors have also seen how crows have increasingly been interacting with people. They play with toys, steal and roll baseballs, tennis balls and golf balls. According to the authors, ball play is considered to be a cultural transmission across species.

Reaping what we sow: Even a child is impressed at the way a crow learns exactly what to eat in a human-dominated world. As I have stated in my earlier blog post “Birds, my friends”, the authors have stated here –“ It may take patience and vigilance, not to mention brains and a cast-iron stomach, to scavenge effectively from people. If crows and ravens have taught us anything, it is to be patient. They will wait for hours or even days before eating new foods or using new feeding locations. This patience likely keeps them out of many deadly situations. When they finally decide to eat, one gets the impression that they are always ready to spring away from unseen danger.”

I love reading non-fiction books and this one is really fascinating.

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Birds, my friends!

Today, while I sat down to think for my next blog post, crows started creating a racket at my balcony.

(Indian House Crows or Corvus Splendens as they are often called).

Everyday crows come to my balcony and go back to their homes in trees. This reminds me of the waves lashing up to the shores and going back.  The crows perch themselves on my balcony as I feed them and then fly away back to their homes in trees. They come back the next time when they are hungry, just as, the waves come to the shores.

Indian Crow (Image courtesy- pixabay.com)
Indian Crow
(Image courtesy pixabay.com)

Patience is one thing that human beings need to learn from crows. Crows, who come to my balcony, patiently wait for food to be fed to them. There is absolute silence. They simply watch us as if they were CCTV cameras. They watch us from the trees nearby and also perched on the balcony. It is said that they have the intelligence of a 7- year old child, but in this aspect of patience, I feel they are mature enough as an adult. When finally the food arrives for them, one of them even stretches his wings just as a human would out of boredom or a very long waiting period.  Crows waiting on our balcony, sometimes, resembles a doctor’s waiting room where patients wait their turn for a doctor’s appointment.

Two crows (Image courtesy- pdpics.com)
Two crows
(Image courtesy pdpics.com)

Language is one barrier that we can’t overcome, but that does not stop them or us interacting with them. They communicate just as the deaf and dumb people would interact. They understand our language through our body language and know if we are angry or annoyed with them when they keep coming back even after the food has been fed to them.  They are intelligent enough to know each window of our home and not only the balcony where we often feed them. They are perched on the kitchen sill and the bedroom window to call out to us for food or simply to rest in the shade or when it is raining. They do not make a sound and quietly perch on our window. They have rightly identified our windows of the house.

House Crows in the rain
House_Crows (Corvus_splendens) grooming after bathing in the rain in Kolkata (Image credit- J.M.Garg)

Nature teaches us a lot of things that help us in our daily life.

They seem to have a sixth sense. I was just keeping aside their food for the next day in their special green plate, when one crow perched on my kitchen sill without a sound, patiently waiting for me to feed him/her. I then fed him/her the last meal of the day before he/she could go back to his/her home for a good night’s sleep. No sooner did I feed him, then he/she took it in his/her beak and flew away. Then, smaller birds like sparrow and myna come to clean up the leftovers on the kitchen window sill.

Seasonal change

With the seasons changing, a lot of other birds come over to my balcony Myna, cuckoo, Bulbul, sparrow, and ravens.

Myna (Image courtesy-flickr.com)
(Image courtesy-flickr.com)

Myna is a small bird with grey colour. The eyes are covered with yellow highlights resembling yellow goggles which human’s wear. The sound of this bird is quite loud, in comparison to its small size. It can produce a variety of sounds. It perches on the tree and modulates its sound. After singing to its heart’s content, it even takes a bow just like girls bowing after a performance. It comes to my balcony with its family and each interacting with the other, take turns to eat their food.

Red vented Bulbul (Img. courtesy- wikipedia)
Red-vented Bulbul
(Image. courtesy Wikipedia)

Bulbul, a tiny bird is very swift in its movements. It perches on my balcony, eats food and quickly flies away. It has a dark brown colour and a crest on its head that resembles a king. The size of this bird is a little bigger than a sparrow.

House Sparrow (image courtesy-commons.wikimedia.org)
House Sparrow
(image courtesy-commons.wikimedia.org)

Sparrow– is a tiny bird and has brown and white colour. The sound that it produces is louder than its size.

Asian Koel (Image courtesy-wikipedia.org)
Asian Koel
(Image courtesy-wikipedia.org)
Female cuckoo (Image courtesy- pixabay.com)
Female cuckoo
(Image courtesy pixabay.com)

Cuckoo/Koel – with its black colour resembles a raven at times. Black colour glistens in the sunshine just like a raven. Cuckoo is entirely black and has red eyes, which are scary to look at. The sound that it produces is melodious. It is often a harbinger of spring. It comes with its spouse which is light brown with black spots on it and hard to spot when it is perched on a tree as it camouflages itself. The sound that it produces is annoying and not melodious like its better-half.  They lay their eggs in some other bird’s nest and fly away. There is a chaos among other birds when they come during the change of season. Their offspring comes on my kitchen window sill. It comes with its daddy and makes a lot of noise while eating food. The mother comes alone to eat the food when the crows leave the food unattended. It keeps a watch from the nearby tree when the food is laid out for them. Their offspring would come with raven to eat on my balcony. The offspring is very quick to finish the food laid out and gobbles up morsels before anyone could come. Raven protects it from the crows.

Raven (pixabay.com)

Raven resembles a crow but is bigger in size.  Crows have a lighter grey shade on their necks and black body. Raven also look similar to Koel or cuckoo when perched on a tree.

Birds and nature teach you many things when you take time out and pay attention. Whether it’s naturalist knowledge or life skills, there’s something for everybody big and small.

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In the Company of Crows and Ravens

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