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Survivor

Written on July 25, '14

The crows in my neighborhood are a strong and cunning lot. Evolution has shaped them into great survivors. Only those which could adapt to the destruction of habitat (result of relentless 'development') and live long enough to mate, were able to pass on their genes to the progeny. Those were the strongest crows of that generation. And now we have a super-adaptible, supremely alert race that probably has eyes on the back of their head, and can digest anything - from rubber bands to gutkha wrappers!


There's a utility balcony in the house, where kitchen garbage is temporarily stored. Even though its put in a container with a lid, and the balcony has an iron grill all around, crows will sometimes slip in and overturn the container. That is a daily battle with them, and often they have to be bribed with food to keep them distracted. Naturally, a lot of caw-cawing takes place in that balcony, and they are in friendly terms with the person who more frequently visits the adjoining kitchen. 'Friendly term' means they will allow this person to stand in the balcony, while they are sitting on the parapet, half-perched on its edge and ready to fly away. Once food has been placed there, they will cautiously wait until the person has left, before slipping inside the grill.

Even that maneuver is not as simple as it reads. In the lane adjoining  the house, electric and telephone wires run level with  the first floor balcony. Crow guards are posted there, since they work as a community to hunt/procure food.  The slightest hint that someone is returning, and a terrible caw-cawing ensues from the guard-post!

Obviously, I have great difficulty getting to take their pictures in that balcony. On the terrace however, they are in the open, and in the range of my tele-zoom. They don't like anyone on the terrace, which they consider their private fiefdom, and make a whole lot of racket whenever I'm up there with the camera. They will sit on the cornices, parapets and water-tanks of adjoining buildings, and raise a mighty din. Some will hurriedly fly, criss-crossing over my head, as if to scare me - 'go away, we don't like you', seems to be the definitive message.

The picture below is a shot from one such session, when they were (hyper-)actively warning the entire birdie world that one of those destructive 2-legged creatures has just dared to invade their terrace-territory. And that, 'it' was carrying a suspicious, shiny object, which could well be a weapon

I don't blame them, or their lack of trust for homo-sapiens, and I'm thankful that they are such super-survivalists. I wish the dodos were too. After zealous land promoting in the city, when many waterbodies were mercilessly filled up, numerous trees uprooted, grassy fields overlaid with concrete to pave the way for human 'nests' - the birds had all but vanished for a while. The once ubiquitous sparrows, the flocks of parrots, the white cranes, the kingfishers all seem to have left the neighborhood. So did the eagles, which used to soar high above in the skies of my childhood. But the crows stayed back, surviving on scraps left by human usage. Even building nests on lamp-posts, twisting iron wires salvaged from some construction site into nest-shape!

 Now, a super-breed appears to have evolved, who are ready for any challenge thrown at them by the 2-leggeds. I'm happy to note that even the sparrows have returned (although I'm not sure for how long, once the remaining greenery vanishes around us). But for now, the sparrows, super-agile, super-suspicious, are thriving too. Perhaps this is nature's way of fighting back :)

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