*All images by Prabhat Kumar
“They are highly intelligent birds. In fact, I think they are more intelligent than most humans”,opined RK Laxman.
Laxman,a veteran cartoonist-creator of Aam Aadmi symbol- is no more.Yet,much like a common man depicted by him,crows are a pan-India bird.Also,it is centred around many countries in Asia and Europe too.In India,this smart bird belongs to the family Corvidae.It has another tongue twisting, high sounding biological name – Corvus Splendens Vieillot.
In fact,this bird is a marauder in the sky.It prowls in group, each plundering nest of other defenseless birds.Some times,crows bully them and force them move away from their own territory.No doubt that they are very cunning as they appear to have learnt that strength lies in number and as such they remain recklessly bold and daring in their adventure.
Uncannily wary of intruding birds of prey such as kites, owls, hawks or bats, they pounce upon them till they are driven out of sight.In the game of Nature,it is the crafty Koel that outsmarts the crow often by executing a diversionary tactics - male Koel lures crows away from nest while the female Koel,finding an opportune moment,lays eggs in crow’s nest - oblivious of the dirty tricks played on them.More,the pair of crow faithfully incubates Koel’s eggs and feed the ever hungry imposter broods diligently after hatching.
Another point to look at is how come this notoriously troublesome and ill famous bird gained a wide coinage in folklore and socio – religious realm? Crows’ character has been a study in dichotomy through millennium,a combination of profound goodness, intelligence as well as of ignoble wretchedness.
In Hindu religious text Ramayana, a very pious and learned saint like character Kakbhusundi is linked with it.Reason?He had a body of crow and himself narrates to the disoriented Garuda,the omnipotence of Lord Rama,to dispel ignorance- the Maya - Garuda was engulfed with.
Contrary to the epic story of Jayanta, the son of Indra, who enchanted by the beauty of Sri Rama’s consort Sita, assuming a body of crow, audaciously vexes them.
Lord Sri Rama taught Jayanta a lesson by throwing an arrow of grass blade aimed at the mischievous Jayanta, who finding no respite anywhere in the entire universe, fell at the feet of Lord Rama praying for forgiveness – forgiven at the cost of one eye, so says the epic.
Even in the fables of Aesop of the western countries,crow is the subject of a man-bird story.It says that a crow who was ‘half dead’ due to thirst found a pitcher containing little amount of water where its beak could not reach. The intelligent crow finds a simple but effective solution – dropping pebbles inside the pitcher till water level rises up convenient enough to dip its beak for quenching thirst.A scientist is learnt to have conducted experiments on jungle crow and found the above corvid behaviour to be true.
There is no doubt that crows are imbued with cognitive ability including ability to plan for future. This ingenuity of crow has enriched English language by such phrases – Little by little does the trick; Necessity is the mother of invention; Where there is will, there is a way; Thoughtful is superior to brute force.
As it is,crows may not be aware of their contribution to the English language.However,many Hindus indulge in mimicking crows-call and, if he or she happens to be a child, the crow responds with a strong bond of friendship even coming to help them break out of difficult situations. One comes across with many such exhilarating news time to time but developing friendship with this intelligent bird is extremely rare.It may be rewarding though.
A child could manage to develop a relationship with a crow,according to a report in a newspaper.It was a strong bond of sustainable friendship with a sensible large hearted crow who presented the joyous child with glittering products-stones such as bangles and gold nuggets every day. The child developed,claims this report, a habit to display to the delighted crow all these presented objects each time it visited.In the process, his collection grew steadily.
If this story is not a fake news,man-crow friendship can be a rewarding affair – one way or another!
In contrast,Alfred Joseph Hitchcock,a celebrated English film director in his dreadful film of 1963-The Birds- had depicted all sheds of crows’ family in an ominous but horrendous act of attacking people, breaking into their houses and gorging flesh and eyes of persons ravenously. These birds have been portrayed as marauders of highest order. The film was horribly successful breaking all records.
Our tribal folklore and a folk song related to this popular bird sing in a different tune.Often it shows these birds make and play tricks and pranks on women folks as they take away their earrings, bangles and Nakabesar. The song Nakabesar Kaga Le Bhaga may still be ringing in the ears of grand old men of yesteryears. Many other old golden songs paint the crow as harbinger of good omen when the birds alight on balcony and utters a shrill squawking sound announcing the arrival of near and dear ones – Mary Ataria Pe Kaga Bole, Mera Jiya Dole Koi Aa Raha Hai.
Again a nostalgic song on crows can make a man get refreshed without resorting to any Yogic Pranayama.To feel so and get the full benefit, there is one over riding condition – one must be above 70 years of age;suffered from a silent mild heart attack; and still going fine,remaining cheerful with these smart birds-crows.
About the Author
Prabhat Kumar is a reputed humanist/writer/environmentalist
Mobile No: 9523449588, Email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org