Apr 5, 2009

The Most Unlikely Visitor

[Okay, I’ve been putting this off for too long and I can’t wait anymore. I’ve left a long gap in between which piled up too many posts unpublished. So, here’s one, I wanted to post that very day. That day was really special to me, which you‘ll come to know and a bit creepy too. I can never forget that day in my life.]

Longing for a variety of birds, I started feeding the wild birds with seeds in my terrace, though not in a feeder, but would spread them on the parapet wall, but again not regularly. I don’t want them to depend on my feed forever (But I still have ideas of putting up a birdfeeder there). Anyways, that did attract quite a population of doves! I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting parrots to perch on my terrace wall and Mynahs to flutter about, but hey I wasn’t totally disappointed.

Mynahs began visiting my neighboring apartment’s terrace almost daily. Do they eat seeds from my parapet wall and perch there? May be I should install an IP Camera and monitor them… :P

A week after I captured these Mynahs in faux eyes, it was a sunny day and I decided that the denizens of Plantville needed grooming and I went to the terrace and groomed my dearies. While doing so, I realized that something was strange. I was surrounded by crows! This wouldn’t have been strange about five years ago, but for the past one year, the crow population has reduced considerably and the Naturalists blame it on the satellites and the radiations emitted by them. Suddenly I realized that it was Saturday – the day of Saturn, whose mount is a crow. Isn’t that too much of a coincidence? What more? In India it’s believed that if you hear a crow cawing for long in front of your house, it’s an indication of arrival of a new visitor. I turned around in search of the mysterious calls of Sparrows? Wrens? Tailors? I wasn’t able to identify that call.

I turned around to look for at least one or two parrots like usual, but none were to be found.

Now, that’s very strange. I turned around…


And suddenly they all started cawing together… What’s with them? Who’s this special visitor that all the crows are talking about? Three or four years ago, I wouldn’t have clicked so many photos, but this was something special. So many crows all around me. The terraces and trees all around were populated with them.

Something was nagging at the back of my mind. I felt that this was really strange. Of course, we have quite a handful of crow population, but not so many off late, what with the growing population of doves! Ah, now that reminds me that not even a single dove was to be seen that day.

The plants were forgotten for the day. I know! I can almost imagine you all gasping at my behavior. “How dare this guy ignore his babies for sudden exhibition of crows? This could be justified if there were hummingbirds all around or gulls flying by in flocks, but for Crows?”

It wasn’t just the crows, but it’s something else. During my clicking, I realized that there was this one crow looking AT me! You might not believe me when I say this and that’s why I clicked this later. This guy was staring at me straight for too long! Isn’t that strange? Initially, I thought it was just my imagination. “Strange birds don’t talk to you!” I told myself and wandered about in my terrace looking for parrots. None were to be found around and so I decided to check out their favorite spot – top of the Sacred Fig tree. I climbed up the tank and lo and behold! There were some parrots there!

Okay, so there are some around here, but how about the coconut tree and my neighbor’s terrace at the back? A crow again! I breathed out a sigh and still with the nagging feeling, I got down from the tank and got ready to go downstairs, but then I was curious to see if that crow was still there. Isn’t that stupid of me? I went back and what did I see? The crow still perched on the coconut leaf and still staring straight at me. With a click to show you his saintly expression, I stood there for quite some time and the crow did stare back at me, holding onto the coconut leaf that was waving about in the wind. For a few seconds the guy would turn his face away from me and return back to me. Isn’t that creepy? I felt as if he was saying something to me… (May be this is all my imagination, but even now when I think back to that day, I felt as if the crow was really saying something to me).

This turning of head away from me and back to me continued for some time. Was he really telling me something? I thought I was going crazy! What the heck, let me follow his sight… and this is what I saw. More crows! DUH! I felt stupid at my imagination and ignored that crow and went downstairs.

The next day was pretty normal and so was the day next. That day some of the parrots looked sick. One poor parrot had all its feathers dropped. May be, the poor thing had a viral attack! Oh no! Wouldn’t that affect others? I felt sad for them… I hoped that it wasn’t a viral or bacterial infection. May be the bird’s going through molting? No! Not all the feathers fall down leaving it bare like that, while molting… Or maybe it’s plucking out its feathers… I prayed that it should be the case.

The whole week was completely normal with happy doves chattering. I had totally forgotten about that saintly crow.

The next week, it was mildly sunny (not too hot – perfect day to work in the garden) and Haemanta was sending out a cool breeze my way. I was adding compost and feeding flower food to my plants and suddenly I head a keeing sound. I turned my face towards the sky expecting to see a parrot flying by. There was none!

I returned back to my plants and after few more minutes…


That turned my attention to the terrace of my neighboring apartment to the south and I thought I saw a huge crow. Since when did crows start calling like parrots? I asked myself.


The call again. It was the huge crow again, but wait… That’s not the call of a parrot! Parrots do something like kee kee kee… Not a single long keeeeee! I zoomed my camera closer and look at what I saw! That isn’t a crow! That’s an EAGLE! Or may a HAWK! Or a KITE!

Not seconds later, I heard another Keeeeee from my back. I turned about immediately and I literally gasped to see another one, just few feet away from me. It was perching on my terrace! I zoomed into confirm if I was right and YES, it was one of the member of Accipitridae (Eagles, Hawks, Kits, Harriers, Vultures…) family! That’s the first time I’ve ever seen one inside the city and I’m sure other Chennaites would agree with me.

Of course, I’ve seen them in Bangalore where I worked for six months. Beautiful eagle used to nest in the tree opposite to the house where I lived there, but in Chennai, it’s unheard of. Only outside the city you could see them, but never inside.

As I was wondering, the other Eagle or hawk or whatever – let’s call it Accipitridaen for now, called to the one near me... and joined the one in my terrace and soon they both flew to the Neem tree in front of my house. I ran to the end of my terrace, desperate to take more shots of my favorite bird and these were the last I managed to take that day. The quickly flew off – may be they found a prey!

This suddenly reminded me of the saintly crow. I starting perusing through the photos carefully and I now realized what that crow was telling me about. It’s about the Accipitridaen! The huge crows that I saw that Saturday wasn’t a crow, but The most unlikely Visitor!


gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Wow! How neat that you had a visitor like that! I wonder if it will be back again?
You are lucky to have parrots there as wild birds! I only see them in cages here.

tina said...

Very eery Chandramouli-all those crows watching. But the eagle is very very nice. Take care.

Randy Emmitt said...


All those crows from the start were telling you that you had a hawk nearby. Crows do what is called mobbing when they find a threat in the area, usually a hawk or owl. I see this often. Enjoyed the read too.


Very nice post. You have built up the suspense and made it very interesting.

Chandramouli S said...

It visits our area once in a while, Catherine. Most of the times, it'd soar high up in the sky and that day the other birds' population would be nary to be seen. Yes, I sure am. Thank you :).

It was eerie, Tina. Even now when I think about it, it kind of makes me think I've gone crazy but I reassure myself by looking at the photos and tell myself that I wasn't imagining. Is that an eagle? Or may be a kite? As it soars like a kit and doesn't look like an eagle to me. You have any idea?

Randy Emmitt: Ah! That explains the crazy cawing. As you said, the crows must have been summoning others for help. This is the first time I've ever seen this behavior. Of course, coz that's the first time we've ever had an Eagle relative in our ares, but glad the visitor did so.

Raji Muthukrishnan: Thank you, ma'am. Glad you liked it. BTW, do you have eagles or other relatives of it visiting your area? I'm curious. Even my mom has never seen one before inside city.


Actually, no. We have seen other birds , but with many more high rise buildings coming up, and trees disappearing, many of the birds that used to be our neighbours have left. I like the view of your terrace garden. How big is your terrace?

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you were able to see this beautiful bird of prey. We see hawks of some type soaring often over our neighborhood, but they are never close enough to tell what kind. Today I enjoyed many goldfinches at my feeder, fighting for position, even though there's enough seed for all. Perhaps you could grow daffodils there if you kept the bulbs under refrigeration first.

Chandramouli S said...

Raji Muthukrishnan: So sad to hear that, but a recent show in Jaya TV's Kaalai Malar, a member of Nizhal spoke about how they're trying to improve the tree population in Chennai and I was so delighted on hearing that. Hope things change in near future. My terrace would be about say... about 40+ feet in length and 30+ feet in width, but again my tiny patch of so-called garden occupies only 16 x 6 ft. I'm restricted :( as we live in a kind of apartment-like building. [sigh] I'm desperately waiting for a larger space, when I don't have to think twice before adding an extra pot/plant.

Robin: Finches! I love those lil' cuties, only we don't get them here It'd be funny to watch them fighting over space isn't it? The parrots do that here. Even the two parrots that I own fight for food. No matter if I keep separate food dishes, one would want to eat in the dish that the other digs in. LOL!
Ah, it's reassuring to hear that I too can grow Daffodils, but my next challenge is to find them!

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Wow, so many birds! It was exciting to read about seeing the Eagle! You have some great photos!

PS I accidentally published my (unfinished) post 5 times! So then, I deleted them...and when you got to my blog, nothing was there. NOW, it's back...with the intended post;-)

Anonymous said...

Lucky you!! Hope you spot many such birds in the days to come.. Hope you find time to install a bird feeder & a bird house as well ;)

Chandramouli S said...

Thank you, Jan :) I'm glad I got to see your latest post immediately. Lovely collage there.

Ally George: I sure fell lucky. A eagle-relative for real out in the city? That was my fantasy! I already have a birdbath, but no sign of birds in it. Anyways, it's only been two days. I should give the birds time to find their way to it.

Anonymous said...

Bird bath? wow.. Why not post a snap of your bird feeder?? Even i long to have a bird bath, a feeder and a bird house. I bound to answer my husband ;) and so I am waiting for a nod from him. Despite his lack of interest, he has helped me have so many plants. So I am sure, he wud help do this as well. I am waiting for Joshua's helping hands as well..;)

Chandramouli S said...

Just a clay plate that is about 6 inches deep serves as the birdbath, but I am yet to see a bird. I'm yet to make birdfeeders and a house. Will definitely post it soon. BTW, I hope you and Joshua make a great team. Good luck!

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Hi again Chandramouli, I just re-visited your post! I forgot to mention how cool that Myna bird is! I've never seen one but heard all about them! And, it must be neat to have parrots roaming all over the place! Here, we only find them in pet shops! Also, that poor featherless parrot...I wonder if it was just a case of 'mites'. I have a post with cardinals who lost their feathers and it's just mites, their feathers grew back eventually. With yours, it might be sick as none of your other birds seem to have the problem. I guess if you notice others getting the same thing, you might mention it to a wildlife center around you (if you have any?). I hope you don't see anymore featherless birds;-)

Chandramouli S said...

I remember your cardinal post with bald head. Yes, I too think it must be something like that as the parrots look quite healthy now. Thank God! It's cool to see 'em fly about. Of course I have two budgies indoors too, flying in the room crazily during their out-of-cage time.
I love Mynas. They have this beautiful yellow shade around their eyes and their call is very unique.

Jamie and Randy said...


I didn't find the crows so much as "creepy" as I did intriguing. I think that nature and the entire world are always interconnected and on various levels, send us messages. I find that often enough, we just aren't listening closely. Nothing in life is coincidental in my opinion, because I feel that all life is one long thread with various intersections. I was captivated by this post, most definitely! Wonderful post; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it ;0)

--Jamie @ J&Rgardenblog

Chandramouli S said...

Said true, Jamie. We so-called busy and civilized people have created a huge gap between us and nature. Glad that you don't think I'm crazy [chuckle] Glad you liked the post :)

How's Randy's back, btw? Is he okay now?