Saturday, February 17, 2007

crow : undisputed king of mumbai sky

After ages, I spotted one sparrow at my home in Bandra.

My immediate fear was ‘I hope she doesn’t get noticed by any crow’. Last month, with little sparrow in his beak, I saw him on the balcony grill, spreading his span, struggling to fit himself on the frill of the balcony, Seeing the feast in sight, few more of his buddies struggled to get their share. He somehow managed to fled and perch on the tree. With sheer struggle, exhaustion and fear I am sure sparrow must have been still by now. Another casualty to ever dwindling population of sparrows in Mumbai suburbs.

When I grew up in Kala Nagar in mid 70’s, coconut trees were just planted and one could see sky horizon up to Kalina from the terrace. Artek Apartments was the tallest building in Bandra East and perhaps the only one with Elevator. At breakfast time, sight of flying green parrots was not unusual. Pigeons would produce babies between narrow spaces in earthen tree pots kept in the balcony. Now slowly all other bird species are being devoured by crow. Over last few decades, sparrows have either been banished outside city limits or face extinction. Mumbai skies now have only domination of one bird and that of crow community. They share aerial kingdom while rats rule the underground kingdom. Stray dogs have their fiefdom on the ground. Most of them lie dormant or hang around during the day but become alert during the night by barking and chasing auto rickshaws.

In any game park, conservationists don’t intervene nature’s law of survival and perish. But they do come into an act if they find particular specie is under threat of extinction. Singapore hates crows and municipality squad shoots them with air gun. They blame crows for making their city dirty. I wonder if bird conservation society in Mumbai has taken notice of the dwindling population of certain birds in Mumbai. During Salim Ali’s time, there was some grand plan to convert surroundings of dharavi/mahim estury (khaadi in Marathi) into bird sanctuary. But now the focus is more on cleaning it from industrial waste to avoid floods during monsoon. Meanwhile, I wonder where the other bird’s species must have decided to migrate.

Now, crow is an undisputed king of Mumbai Sky. Early morning, they start tuning their vocal strings of their cacophonic orchestra to wake people. By 9am, our regular crow visitor arrives on balcony and peeps inside. If curtains are drawn, then he repeatedly hits his beak against window glass plane. Once this exercise is over, he sits on the top side bar on left side of the balcony grill- his reserved seat. As I write this, his spouse (?) has come and fed him something that she managed to get. Or were they kissing? Whatever it was, it was so cute.

One of the Hindu traditions is to offer food to crows as a part of ritual after a man is dead. They say, if crow has eaten food, person’s soul is at rest with no unfulfilled desire for food. At Artek, with such huge population of crows, most people shall have their moksha (salvation) once they are departed. So will be the case, with most Mumbaikars. Preity Zinta is one of her recent interview mentioned ‘every time I come from abroad, I see Mumbai become deteriorated ’. I agree, barring benefit of salvation, crows continue to be menace and scourge for Mumbai.

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Anonymous jaideep said...

sad to know that mumbai is ruled by crows! and no chirping, beacutiful birds!

in singapore, crows are legally banned and singapore sky is free from crows. if somebody catches or kills a crow he/she gets rewarded by local govt.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Katie M. said...

We have crows around here in the US but not to the point of where they have become kings of the sky.

9:10 AM  

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