Watching Bird Behaviour (Comments)

Author: arun_krishnaiah

It was a lazy Sunday morning, cloudy and drizzly, a perfect romantic setting. I was going through the newspaper on my terrace sipping on my daily cup of coffee when I heard a shrill chirp from the opposite tree.  I was sure it was not a crow, but it did sound like a baby crow. I strained to look through the branches and got my first glimpse of the bird - a juvenile male Asian koel. As a bird watcher I immediately understood what I was seeing. The little one was hungry and was beckoning its parents for food.

This beauty was jet black, unrelieved by any contrast marking; its bill ivory-yellow, and iris a brilliant red. In comparison, the upper body of the female koel is dark brown, profusely spotted and tarred with white. It is white underneath and its bill is greenish in color with a red iris.
I know the Koel is a brood parasite, and lays its egg (s) in the nests of a variety of birds, including house crows and honeyeaters. The young koel does not always evict its host's chicks, and initially calls like a crow. So what I was witnessing right now was the young koel calling out to its adoptive parents, the house crows!

Bird watching has been my weekend hobby since last 14 years, an inexpensive hobby needing only a binocular and interest to watch.  It is interesting to watch bird behaviors and the crow-koel phenomenon to be happening on my very own roof top was an unexpected treat. I did not have to go far away from the city to behold this. Here I was, in the comfort of my own home, sipping coffee and getting to watch a live show.  I was getting a first hand experience of this spectacle; I jumped to my feet and ran into the house, grabbed my camera and started clicking away.

After sometime I saw a big crow approach the koel. It perched close and began feeding him. The unpresuming crows, with god gifted parental instinct, feed and nurture another’s young till the day it’s ready to leave home and continue in the footsteps of its forefathers.

The tale of the koel was something that was often told to me as a child. It struck me as a marvel of nature. I used to wonder why this bird? We were told animals recognize their young by their scent and many desert their own young when touched by human hands, then why  crow is not able to figure this out!? Later I learnt that both koel's and crow's eggs are grey-green with rusty brown markings. The koel's egg is marginally smaller than that of the crow, but crows, unlike birdwatchers, do not measure eggs and therefore, there is no danger of egg rejection due to size variance!!

As I watched the birds, I felt peace within me. In this instance I do not know who the dumb or intelligent one is, but I am sure we all have a great lesson to learn from this creature. Though the crow does not realize that the young is not its own, the very fact that God has created such a bird for the world to see, goes to show the importance of sharing beyond one’s circle, in this case, very closely sharing your existence with another creation of God.

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It was April; temperature in Bangalore was on a rise. I set out alone on a bird watching trip. I reached the outskirts when I saw a small blue Kingfisher sitting on a perch and making sound like a short shrill chee. From my binoculars, I saw the bird sitting in the same spot holding a small fish in its beak and continuously making sound. Initially I thought it was a courtship call. I slowly removed my camera and started clicking few record shots.  Some more minutes passed, I knew some thing was going to happen. After a few seconds, one more Kingfisher flew in and sat next to the bird.  Now I changed my vision from Binox to my camera.

As a bird watcher I knew the newcomer was a chick of the adult bird which perched before. For a long time the adult bird was calling for its grown chick to give food.  In the initial stage where the chicks are too small, the parent bird feeds it in the nest. Once the wings are out, adult bird sits outside the nest and calls continuously for its chick to come out and feed.  The intention is clear here. Adult bird wants its chick come out of the nest, start flying, and get adjusted to the outside world. This may be the first flying lesson to the chicks. Slowly adult bird moved near to the chick and started feeding it.  After few minutes both the birds flew away. I had heard of this behavior before, but witnessed it first time on that day.

Next day I went again to see those birds. They were not there.  I waited for more than an hour but in vain. However, I was happy thinking that one more generation of Kingfisher bird has entered this world.

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Bangalore has many places for pursuing bird watching. About 50 km away from Bangalore, there are numerous places for bird watching. Manchana Bale Dam, Kanakpura Road, Hebbal Lake, and Hesarghatta Lake are the important places. We can see very rare birds within the city in Lalbagh.

Last year red vented bulbul made a nest in our garden. It laid three eggs and a week later, I saw there were three chicks with eyes still closed. For about 15 days, the parent bird fed its young.  It gave me a quiet happiness to see the entire process – building nest, eggs replaced by chicks on a fine day, and their parent bringing feed every half an hour.  It became a happy occupation for me to watch them. One morning I check on the nest to see how much the chicks have grown. To my dismay, one of them was not moving or making any sound. I wondered if it was sick but when I looked closely, I saw some red ants feeding on it.  I felt compelled to remove the ants, but decided not to disturb their nest.  In the evening when I checked on the nest, the dead chick was on the ground.  Who removed it from the nest?

It could not be anyone from my home since I did not mention about the nest and chicks to anyone.  Could it have been the parent bird?  Did it do it to protect the rest two from the red ants?  I was curious to find out if this was a normal behavior for these birds and enquired about it.  Some answers confirmed this behavior.

There is so much to learn from Mother Nature.  We are in the right time where we have sophisticated and highly advanced video/still camera to capture the behaviors of flora and fauna.  About 75-100 years back, we had the same fauna and flora, but no technology to capture, only mere observation. In the coming 50 years there will be far more advanced technology, but will we get to see the same birds and animals?


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