Are you of the opinion that regular pets are just too regular for you and you want to branch out?
Well, I have just got the quirky thing for you. Trust me, common pets are really common, unless of course it is the common crow!
The monsoon rains with its torrential downpour does uproot a lot of nests, causing young ones to fall down, who are sometimes gravely injured. If you come across any such cataclysm, do bother to give them a home before they learn to skirt the skies.
The most common birds that fall prey to such mishap are members of the Corvid family. The Corvids (belonging to the Crow family) are the most cosmopolitan birds in terms of their distribution. It includes nearly 103 species, the popular ones being crows, ravens, magpies, jays, nutcrackers and choughs. They are found to be quite fascinating, being distantly related to the birds of paradise and bowerbirds. They share characteristics like bright coloration-crows and ravens seem black from a distance but if you have the privilege of watching them up close, you will get to see metallic sheens of green, blue and even traces of purple. How cool is that!
You might also want to know that Corvids are the brains of the bird world. They have some intriguing habits that might entice you. For starters, they are extremely social. Haven’t you come across a trapped crow being surrounded by a whole bunch of what seems to be friends and family, trying to save the poor bird? Which other bird do you think shows such integrity? Well, that’s not all. They have phenomenal memory that helps them in hoarding food.
They also possess an elaborate sense of play and know effective use of tools. Funny, huh?
Most of the birds belonging to the Corvid family are gregarious and social. The European Rook stays together through life and breeds in dense colonies. The American crow, showing amazing self-reliance, breeds solitarily. However, the young and the unmated birds aggregate into flocks and birds of all ages may sleep at night in communal roosts of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of birds in the wintertime. With the arrival of spring, these birds disperse to breed solitarily in their particular territories. In some species of crows and jays, several individuals beside the parents may even help at the nest.
Of all the Corvids, the ones found in abundance would definitely be the Ravens, so much so that Poe even has a poem written with the same name! Ravens are, undoubtedly, charismatic with their shiny features and royal gait. Like other Corvids, they are semi-social when they are young and unmated, and may form temporary alliances, travelling in bands with other non- breeders. Only the females incubate, and you would be pinned to know that they form life-long attachments, very much like lobsters. Ravens defend territories against other ravens, including against non- breeders who may in turn team up to overcome the defences of territory holding adults.
Magpies have roughly overlapping behaviour to that of crows, jays, and ravens. When encountering a temporary surplus of food, possibly all corvids hide and store some of that food for future use. Nutcrackers rely on cached seed or nuts collected in autumn to sustain them through the winter and into spring. Grey jays attach their collected food with a specialized saliva that hardens and forms a glue, onto tree limbs where it does not get buried under deep snow. They also sometimes kill ants and rub them all over their own body. The Formic Acid from the ant’s body actually helps the crows to keep away parasites from their own bodies.
Ravens are also up for scavenging. When in the company of a horde of competitors at a carcass, ravens cache meat largely to secure as much as possible for themselves in the few hours before the others remove it all. Ravens take care not to be seen by others when and where they hide food. They magnificently have their nasal chambers directly linked from their noses to their mouths. Thus, they can smell also while chewing and can discard poisonous substances if they have mistakenly started chewing them. These species also live around farms and though they sometimes eat grains, but in the end actually help the farmers by eating away all kinds of pests and bugs. So they are also helpful for farming!
Common crows, well at least some of them, have schooled themselves to open nuts and clams by dripping them from air onto rocks or placing them in front of intersections. The Australian crow routinely makes tools, fashioning two types of picks out of trees and then expertly uses these picks to extract grubs from crevices. If this is not fascinating, I don’t know what is! Moreover, if you adopt one of these for pets, you will not be the only one who has a naming to do. These birds are also known to give names to their owners and make a distinct sound whenever a known person comes around that it will not do otherwise. So be prepared to be dubbed something in the bird lingo!
So, if this monsoon, you do happen to find one of these extremely intelligent fellows in a bad shape, do help.