A black kite flies quite alone in the skies. A pair of pied crows join the kite. But this is not a follow the leader kind of thing. It’s an ambush. The pied crows with their wings and beaks shove the kite of course. The kite now knowing it’s under attack, fights back. There is movement of wings in the sky…the air between the birds filled with rage. Not the tough blood all over type of rage but a sort of get out of our air space type of rage. (Or perhaps the crows love playing with other birds) The kite gives in and flys fast away from the crows which are behind him but they already know they have won.
This scene is quite common in our skies. Crows can even chase marabou storks and raptors like the African harrier hawk and Augur Buzzard. This is quite bold if you ask me. Crows are quite aggressive birds sometimes it’s hard to believe that they are passerines (singing birds).
Today’s town bird being the crow let’s learn a little bit about them.
The crow family (Corvidae) has some aggressive species within it and I would say the house crow (Corvus splendens) takes the lead. They can be bullies of the avian world especially in their numbers.
Two species of crows are visible in most towns. The glossy black house crow present in coastal Kenyan towns which is slowly moving towards Nairobi as they have been spotted around Athi river areas and the quite common ‘tuxedoed’ black and white crow the pied crow (Corvus albus). The house crow was predominantly a south Asian species but moved to other parts of the world via ship. This species of crows is more annoying and aggressive than the pied crow mostly found in Africa. If the species was to cross paths with the pied crow, they would win as they are very tenacious. The pied crow is however not restricted to urban areas unlike the house crow and would still find a home beyond our towns.
This species feeds on insects, small reptiles and mammals, young birds and eggs, grain, peanuts, carrion, scraps of human food and fruits and can be found on dumpsites together with marabou storks, hadada and sacred ibises.
Pied crows have been observed to nest in electricity poles and transformers, even on buildings, making the absence of trees in urban areas not a challenge for them.
During late evenings, one can see tens to hundreds of this birds masquerading the skies as if suggesting they are having a head count or meeting or maybe a social gathering of some sort. This dictates that this birds are quite social creatures. No one can miss this birds in towns, especially anyone who is keen on birds. (Even when you are not a bird watcher, you will still see them…unless you are blind).
The behavior of this birds can teach us as humans plenty. They are very territorial and are not afraid of big birds which may cross their turf. They are also social birds and very protective of their own. Though they have a lot of cons we still can learn from them.
Though common and most times an eye sore, I believe this and other common birds are still worth mentioning.
Happy birding and let us not ignore our common and not so spectacular (to some people) avian friends.