A Feast For Crows

To all Game of Thrones fans, this is not about GoT so don’t pull a “for the watch” on me later.

In Punjab, they say that the cawing of a crow heralds the arrival of a visitor. In GoT, it signals the arrival of the white-walker. Remember when Sam kills the white-walker?

Yes, this article is all about crows. They caw, they poop, they claw at your hair, they dive bomb and they steal your food. They are feathered, they are black, they are evil and they look cool only on TV.

One fine evening, I was having a Mexican standoff with a crow at Shenoy’s. It cocked its head to one side and eyed my samosa cheese sandwich greedily. “Mine!” I growled, “get lost”. I only felt the talons and watched the sandwich fly out of my hands. I never saw the second crow coming in from the side.

That was one instance when I wished that they would go the way of the dinosaurs. I’m pretty sure many of you hope so too.

Think of some reasons why they ought to be shot. I’m sure you came up with many. Now think of one reason why they shouldn’t be. Blank? Nothing? They are hard to love though they aren’t half as bad once you get to know them. In fact, most crow-buddy stories will leave you teary-eyed. I too have a good relationship with the crows on campus. I share my food with them and get free samples of fertilizer in return. I must say, they are really good marksmen, or should I say marksbirds? They never miss.

They are very intelligent. They could probably outsmart a seven-year old. They are one of the few creatures that can actually use tools. Apparently crows remember faces. So next time you piss off a crow, make sure you don’t let it see your face. They tend to hold grudges. They will tell their friends and their kids. This was put to the test in a series of experiments in “A murder of Crows” and getting mobbed by every crow on campus never made anyone so happy.

It is probably their intelligence that makes them so endearing. But it is also the reason we don’t get along so well with them.

They are actually quite similar to human beings. . They mate for life, raise their young and mourn their dead. They are omnivores and we have opened up so many avenues for them. They go where we go. They have followed man across six continents.

We are all quite familiar with our “good friends”, the common crows, Corvus splendens, serenading near KMC every evening. Splendens, apparently, is Latin for brilliant. Get it now?

House crow
House crow

The jungle crow, however, prefers woodlands and parks. You can see them mobbing kites (the birds) at End Point.

Jungle Crow Photo: Preetham Meher
Jungle Crow Photo: Preetham Meher

 

There are very few places where a Corvid is a rarity. To them, human settlement means food, good nesting sites where they can raise their young and good roosting spots.  They eat garbage, rats, squirrels, dead things, baby birds, insects and sandwiches of course. My roommate is convinced that they can somehow tell which brown paper bag has a sandwich.

IMG_9566

Back to why they shouldn’t be shot. Okay, imagine a world overrun with rats, not like the ones in Ratatouille mind you. Not very pleasant, is it? They are very efficient in pest control and garbage disposal. The world is a cleaner place thanks to them.

The world would be dirtier and a lot less exciting without them. And well, GoT, or any creepy scene for that matter, won’t be the same without a murder of crows and black feathers floating down.