A case for the commoners: Indian House Crows

I don’t know what to think about House Crows anymore. They have become the cockroaches of birds. But it isn’t indicative of their statuses as unpleasant vermin. It just reflects my biases about certain creatures based on personal experiences.

I have always been katsaridaphobic. The reason being that cockroaches go out of their way to strike fear in my heart. They have charged me on several occasions. Maybe it’s all in my head. But I believe that cockroaches attack me without provocation. Especially those with wings. It’s like they can smell my fear and they want more of it.

Indian House Crow, Chennai

Lately, I have begun to think that I might be corvidophobic too.  I blame it on almost having my eyes plucked out on a few occasions.

House Crows or Grey-Necked Crows have constantly picked on me. They have even harassed me on terraces of buildings I have worked in. They whiz past my ears from different directions, with malice.

Even on my terrace at home, they threaten me  They don’t leave me alone for five seconds when I am up there. They might be protective and territorial. But why aren’t they bothering my neighbours? Why do they think that I alone put them in clear and present danger?

I can’t hate them. House Crows play a vital role in urban societies. Their roles as garbage disposers and unpaid pest removal squads can’t be ignored. Plus they are really intelligent. Their scientific second name – Splendens, in Latin, means “brilliant”. Many have documented their behaviour to prove that they are.

I don’t love them either. The Indian House Crows  have become an invasive species.  They ruthlessly invade, not just to sustain their lineage but to prove their dominance too. Plus, they can be bullies.

They have even started wreaking havoc in Mombasa – a coastal city in Kenya.

Indian House Crow, Chennai

Only one other invasive species that I know of that possesses similar traits. But it walks on two legs. It goes out of the way to screw things up in Africa . And doesn’t realize how much noisy, intrusive and aggressive it is.

Fool me once – shame on you.
Fool me twice and it’s on me.
But if it happens again,
we can start anew, and
blame the rest on the world
and all its petty rules.

 (Photographs: Chennai)

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42 comments

  1. Lol, what a “timely” post. I was thinking about this recently and in fact been thinking about this for quite some time. Years ago crows used to fly at a safe height, these days they fly so low that they can take the head off. Probably they evolved and learnt over decades. Think “Selfish Genes”.

    Btw, love the last sentence, absolutely agree with you. Not particularly proud of that species either. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Humans, right? Did I make myself sound stupid by stating the obvious? Hehe
    Crows are nasty, C. I told you about that one time when they left a ‘present’ (dead) for me on the balcony railing, right? Umm…do not anger them.
    transforms into a crow and flies away
    Caw.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Oh wow, that last line really hit home hard.
    ” It’s like they can smell my fear and they want more of it.” Best line ever, to describe ANY creepy crawlies. shudders

    As for the crows, have you by any chance done something to them? Because I remember reading about this study once that crows communicate very well. If you pick on even one of their kind, the whole murder comes for you. (Crows literally have one of the best collective nouns, ever. Besides Zebras.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad I gave you the shivers, lass hehe thank you!

      And I have heard of this theory which states that crows – like elephants – hold a grudge and look for revenge. Maybe I had done something to them as a child and our respective lineages have crossed paths again!

      You are right about “murder of crows” sounding the best!What are zebras called in this regard?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the reason most people hate crows is because they are black. I kind of like the em though… They’re such simpletons… And cuckoos (or is it some other bird?) take advantage of that – what can be more ruthless than killing he crow’s young one and making them hatch the eggs of another bird.

    Apart from their intelligence, its perhaps this concept of crows being representatives of our ancestors that I have grown up around that makes me like them.

    Plus, I believe they can be taught to talk 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I think the reason most people hate crows is because they are black” – Yes yes and yes!

      You make a good point about them being simpletons, but I wonder if the Asian Koel (the lady who lays her eggs in crows’ nests) is just dastardly clever and the crow – just a good mother (smile).

      Tell me about them being representatives of our ancestors, I haven’t heard that one!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Kaka kootum kalanjaalum numba kootum kalaya koodadu”
        (Even if a crow’s family is separated, our family must not disintegrate)

        Every year, my mother and I say this prayer in the early hours of the day after pongal. Leftover sweet and salt pongal, along with other dishes are served on a platter specifically for crows, and they are invited to eat.

        Not just during pongal, but we are supposed to serve rice to crows everyday before we eat… Although it’s the other birds who finish it off!

        PS: my Tamil isn’t very good.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have similar anxieties (more of a Scopophobia) about house pigeons. Out of all the balconies in the world, they have picked mine as their official poop ground. Not complaining, just saying 😐 (they even dug a life-size hole on the iron net placed on the balcony door, now you can’t ignore that, can you )

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes,you’d almost think they think they’re human. I hate seeing crows bully smaller birds at our feeders. I hate enduring cowbird ‘flybys’ when they think I’m encroaching on their territory. And it’s almost too much to take when someone reminds me they’re very smart birds. Doesn’t seem very smart to me. I loved the post!
    Elouise

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I used to dislike crows intensely (though ours are not quite the same as yours) but in the past year and a bit have become fond of a couple of them, in particular one which I’ve just written about in my blog. This isn’t to say I trust them all, but as I tend to think of birds as being not too different from humans, there are many humans I wouldn’t automatically trust (or distrust) either!
    They are definitely very intelligent birds though, with very set patterns of behaving and their powers of recognition are very strong (actually I think most birds have got this ability). However it wasn’t til I read up a bit on it a few years ago that I realised that crows bear grudges and pass their ‘opinions’ on to their friends and families, so maybe you offended one crow a long time back? I think it always pays to be as pleasant as possible to birds, just in case any should take offence! Have a read of this: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26crow.html?_r=0

    And – are there not beliefs, superstition sand mythologies, in many religions, about crows? Some that claim they are harbingers of doom and others that claim the opposite? My thought is they must all be based on something in the birds’ actual natures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, now that I think of it. I may have thrown stones at a crow’s nest when I was a kid. I remember the sight of spilled yolk, and a lot of guilt.

      Gosh, that’s putting things into perspective eh. Thank you, Val. You bring wonderful perspectives to the silliness that goes on in my head, at times. You’re the best.

      Great read too, the NY article.

      Liked by 1 person

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