Save the crow, save the cuckoo.
Two of the most common birds we have around us are all set to disappear, as a migratory pattern has been observed due to which they are getting scarcer. Recent research by Paul Greenough points out that the Indian House Crow – which can almost be called as the ‘unofficial’ national bird owing to its large numbers that creates an easy co-existence and close connect with the people – has been migrating to other countries in recent years.
It is believed that Increasing urbanization which implies the cutting down of trees and a lifestyle that necessitates a different mode of waste (food) disposal, combined with tall mobile towers in abundance spewing out electromagnetic waves, have all but forced the bird to look elsewhere for healthier living.
Our elders had the habit of placing some food outdoors every day before it was served to anybody, based on the belief that the crows are but representatives of our dead ancestors. There are people who still follow this ritual, at least on some special days.
However, this is not enough to sustain a huge population of these clever birds. I say ‘clever’ because they have repeatedly demonstrated updated intelligence in terms of co-existing with human beings. When a huge tree branch fell down due to rains, a couple of all-metal crow nests were found, pointing to their ingenuity in adapting to the environment.
Interestingly, pigeons have been seen to be adapting to urban living much better in recent years, which has also created a competition for the crow. So much so that, the priest performing the last rites of a person some 4 years ago, advised the descendants to go and look for the pigeons, instead of the crows!
The crows have since been migrating to the Middle East, East Africa, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Malaysia and Singapore. Knowing how smart they are, these crows probably simply chose to sail out on a ship bound to one of these places, rather than winging it all the way!
It is stated that Australia resorted to the import of Indian mynas once to control local bird population, and these birds created such friction with local birds that in due course of time, Aussies had to take steps to control the myna population! Apparently, such a cycle has already commenced with Indian crows in Singapore.
Once the crows go, the cuckoos will also dwindle because they are dependent on crows for nesting of cuckoo eggs and rearing the very young. Cuckoos are well-liked for their musical calls and are quite common residents of many parts of our country.
Generations bygone grew up listening to stories about crows and sparrows. All these little birds have been an inseparable part of our daily lives. Two generations from now, will the children only hear about these birds in stories?!
If that were not to be, we as individuals should do whatever is in our hands to retain them around us. To make a start, let’s start putting some food outdoors and growing more trees for them to live in. They’ll surely stay on.