[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 I’ve left a long gap in between which piled up too many posts unpublished.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.
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.
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 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!