At the end of a rainbow

Lucy found her diamond sky

A crow for all reasons

on June 16, 2015

Meet eye to eye with a crow, and one can instantly sense the intelligence lurking in that black, beady stare. No wonder crows are regarded with a mixture of fear, reverence or even hatred across different cultures with myths ranging from witches’ incarnation to omen of death. Urban places are a bonanza for these feathered apes where our ever-increasing waste simply add items to their menu, and landfills offer an endless buffet to choose from. We may be disenchanted with myth and legends, but it is hard to miss the avian flock shadowing human settlements. As more and more species breathe their last everyday, at least some have found hacks in human lifestyles and used it to survive. Crows, are undoubtedly thriving within our wasteful abundance along with rats and cockroaches. I noticed one  politely pecking at my window as I was about to place a biscuit in my mouth, as if gently chiding my lack of ettiquete in front of guests. Amused, I placed a biscuit near the widow ledge. The crow waited for me to go back to my place before gingerly placing the biscuit in its beak and taking off. I thought no more about the incident till the next day, when it punctually showed up at tea time. Before I knew it, I had got myself an unlikely companion for tea. Soon, it started coming with a partner and a few days later began cawing “get up” and “hello” if I wasn’t in my usual tea-drinking, biscuit-dunking posture. While I still found their behaviour fascinating, my partner was less sympathetic to their cacophonic greetings which didn’t come with a ‘snooze’ button. Gradually, they even learnt to “coo” instead of cawing if he was around to get some extra tidbit for good behaviour. Near a driving school in Sendai, Japan, crows throw nuts on the road for moving vehicles to crack it under wheels. Now, here comes the mind boggling part–they wait for the traffic signal to turn red and follow the pedestrians in order to go and pick up their lunch lying on the road! Crows learn from their peers and enemies, giving rise to a learning culture very few species can boast about. Most people consider crows a menace, but it is rather interesting to see how we can fear and despise a creature sharing so many qualities with us; an intelligent, resourceful, cunning and opportunistic being. Hacker Joshua Klein recently invented a vending machine for them with the proposal that they could be trained to deposit plastic garbage in return for a morsel of food. It is perhaps time we let go of our prejudices and look at symbiotic relationships to redefine our thoughts about this ordinary yet exra-ordinary creature.

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