To Fight or Flee??

Have you ever found yourself in a situation, where you were just being yourself and then you are surrounded by a horde of intimidations of various sorts? What would you have done in such testing times? Though you may be competent enough to beat them and tackle them singly ,if given a chance, when they crop up in huge volumes, what would be your response?

Many of the best advice I have heard is to fight them all. But that’s not very easy to extinguish a mob of problems, especially when you are singled out.

I once witnessed a similar situation among birds. It was dawn, there were bird calls that invited my attention. I saw a fallen branch of Acacia tree, on which different varieties of birds were perched. I identified black hooded Oriole, sunbirds, Red Whiskered Bulbul, Common Myna, and House Crow. All of them staring annoyingly at something that I thought was inanimate object, it then came across me that there was a cryptic Owlet in the midst of the noisy mob.

Why were those birds restless and intimidating an owlet. Well, I conjectured, the owlet is a carnivore, may be preying on their eggs and hatchlings. Then what about the House Crow? They too are known for their stealing nature. Are those stories that ‘Crows and Owls’ are enemies, true? or may be it’s because Owls prey on Crow’s eggs too. But what if we were to ask the owl? It would say “I’m just being myself”. That’s how I am programmed to live.

But to remain frozen in the present locus is dangerous. As the situation was getting worse with the Crow calling out it’s friends for majority, the Owlet takes a decision, TO FLEE. It flew to a nearby tree hole and hid within.

We in our life may have come across similar situations, were fighting the grueling abuse is energetically costly at that moment, but fleeing temporarily the hostile circumstances is the ideal choice. The insecure mob in that way will lose their targeted focus.

Water color

CITATION:

Fight, flight, freeze: What this response means- Medically reviewed by Timothy J Legg. PhD, CRNP-Written by Kirsten Nunez on Feb 21, 2020.

JUNGLE CROW- BEYOND MYTHS

Jungle Crow- painting

This is another variety of crow from family Corvidae,that I have seen- Jungle Crow. They are all black and is distinguished from the house crow by the absence of any grey color on the neck. According to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp, the Himalayan ones are called Large Billed Crow(Corvus macrorhynchos) having wedge shaped tail and harsher calls compared with the Jungle crows of the Plains. Both of them have domed head, large bill and arched culmen. The tail of Indian Jungle crow is rounded and the legs and feet stout. 1

Calls: They are different from that of House Crow. They are harsher.Listen? https://avibase.ca/7357197F

Food Habits:- Jungle crows are known to have a wide range of food preferences. They feed on insects, bird eggs and chicks, while they scavenge dead animals. They eat various fruits and seeds of trees as well, and thus their role as a seed disperser has been pointed out (Ueda & Fukui, 1992). 9 Results portrayed that effective communication was present between both species upon finding food deemed as ‘interactions’, however Jungle crows portrayed more aggressive and competitive behavior towards House crows when food or perching area was scarce, thus portraying competitive behavior.2

Habitat:- They have a wide habitat range: around human habitation, well wooded country, forest edges…..3 During the day pairs may be involved in defending their territory but at night they may roost in large groups.4

MOBBING:-

A bonnet macaque being chased by Jungle crow
A Jungle crow chasing bonnet macaque

Jungle Crow relentlessly harry birds of prey, mobbing and aggravating both incubating birds on the nest and any low flying large raptors which is persistently chased. ………It will steal food from vulture nest sites, even from under the protesting gaze of the parent vulture which has regurgitated food for its chicks. 5

MOBBING AMONGST HUMANS

Konrad Lorenz, in his book On Aggression (1966), attributed mobbing among birds and animals to instincts rooted in the Darwinian struggle to survive. In his view, humans are subject to similar innate impulses but capable of bringing them under rational control12. Mobbing, as a sociological term, means bullying of an individual by a group, in any context, such as a family, peer group, school, workplace, neighborhood, community, or online. When it occurs as physical and emotional abuse in the workplace, such as “ganging up” by co-workers, subordinates or superiors, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, humiliation, discrediting, and isolation, it is also referred to as malicious, nonsexual, non-racial/racial, general harassment.13 Has anyone been through this?

MYTHOLOGY:-

“The crow, amongst the Buddhist in Tibet, is believed to be the incarnation of the Mahakala or The Great Black one– the protector of the monasteries in Tibet.”6

……”.Crows pervade beliefs of Indian folk. Its guttural call, especially when sitting on a banana plant, heralds the arrival of a guest for meal. Its acceptance of preferred food accompanying ceremonies of funerals or on death anniversaries signifies the contentment of the departed soul.”7

………………….in some places, Hindus have the practice of offering food first to crows in the belief that their dead ancestors or parents’ souls reside in the birds…………………. ……………..As for other beliefs about crows in Hinduism, a particular call of a Jungle Crow outside one’s home could signify the impending death of a family member or relative, and another that a guest is about to arrive. And, if any of this does happen (by chance of course!), then the elders would say, “I told you so”!8

Crows, and especially ravens, often feature in legends or mythology as portents or harbingers of doom or death, because of their dark plumage, unnerving calls, and tendency to eat carrion………………In mythology and folklore as a whole, crows tend to be symbolic more of the spiritual aspect of death, or the transition of the spirit into the afterlife,………………………… https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~rwest/wikispeedia/wpcd/wp/c/Crow.htm

In Japanese mythology, this flying creature is a raven or a jungle crow called Yatagarasu (八咫烏, “eight-span crow”)and the appearance of the great bird is construed as evidence of the will of Heaven or divine intervention in human affairs.  14

In Korean mythology, it is known as Samjogo During the period of the Goguryo kingdom, the Samjok-o was considered a symbol of the sun. The ancient Goguryo people thought that a three-legged crow lived in the sun while a turtle lived in the moon. http://folkency.nfm.go.kr/en/topic/detail/5550

The superstition that black crows announce future misfortune is probably due o misinterpretations(which come back to Middle Age) of the presence of crows near dead bodies. There is a rational explanation for that. Crows have a keen sense of smell and are hence attracted by the smell of death. That explanation was not known at that period of time and this is why the presence of crows near houses where someone had just died was interpreted as a subnormal phenomenon. Ref:- Delacroix, Eva and Valerie, Guillard(2008). Understanding ,defining and measuring the trait of superstition.

CACHING BEHAVIOR:-

Caching means storing away for future use.Food caching behaviour has been noted in sp. culminatus.10,11 Jungle Crows have also been observed stealing non-food items like golf balls (Poché 1981),and even spectacle frames (Aitken 1900).

Hiroyoshi Higuchi, Ph.D.,Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo, says “In crow study, I studied stone-placing on rail road tracks, dispersing garbage on street, attacking people, stealing soap bars from kindergarten, and making field fire by putting alight candles among fallen leaves in forest floors” http://hhiguchi.justhpbs.jp/#English

CLEVERNESS

Here’s an observation that proves how clever the Jungle crow is …..

https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/48604007#page/127/mode/1up-
A Jungle Crow mobbing a juvenile white bellied sea eagle- sketch

BOOKS :

There are some books that mentions the characteristics of a Jungle Crow and instills interest in us to read them.

  • In the book ‘Blacky The Crow‘, Thornton W.Burgess has written”………………and he will eat anything in the way of food that he can swallow. Often he travels long distances looking for food, but at night he always comes back to the same place in the Green Forest, to sleep in company with others of his family.” ……………..” You know Blacky has a weakness for eggs…….. We’ll tease them until they lose their tempers and forget all about keeping guard over those eggs. Then I’ll slip in and get one and perhaps both of them. My, how good those eggs will taste!”
  • In a poem ‘Crow’s Fall‘, Ted Hughs, crow decides to attack the sun because it was too white. This means that the Crow was ready to take on anything no matter how big they are.

CITATIONS:-

  1. Whistler, Hugh;Kinnear,N.B(1932). The Vernay Scientific Survey of the Eastern Ghats(Ornithological section). Journal
  2. Shanbhag, Anirudh P. et al. “Interspecific Behavioral Studies of House Crows (Corvus splendens protegatus) and Jungle Crows (Corvus macrorhynchos culminatus) on Mutual Foraging Sites.” (2012). https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Interspecific-Behavioral-Studies-of-House-Crows-and-Shanbhag-Ghosh/d3b9069856bb5a56b1e14beef3c368a78756be1d
  3. Birds of Bhutan and the East Himalaya- By Carol Inskipp, Richard Grimett, Tim Inskipp, Sherub, Bloomsbury Publishing 4/4/2019- Nature
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large-billed_crow#cite_note-11
  5. Crows and Jays by Steve Madge and Hilary Burn
  6. Vishnu’s Mount: Birds in Indian Mythology and Folklore.
  7. https://www.ias.ac.in/article/fulltext/reso/006/02/0074-0082
  8. https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-bird-with-brains/article3007054.ece
  9. Diet of Jungle Crows in an Urban Landscape. file:///C:/Users/nicsi/Downloads/07_2-10.pdf
  10. Natarajan, V. (1992). Food-storing behaviour of the Jungle Crow Corvus macrorhynchos Wagler. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 89(3):375.
  11. Sharma, Satish Kumar (1995). Food storing behaviour of the Jungle Crow Corvus macrorhynchos Wagler. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 92(1):123
  12. Kenneth Westheus Mobbing Archived 2011-08-12 at the Wayback Machine. uwaterloo.ca .
  13. Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace by Noa Davenport, Ruth D. Schwartz and Gail Pursell Elliott. 
  14. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon (1953). Studies in Shintō and Shrines: Papers Selected from the Works of the Late R.A.B. Ponsonby-Fane, LL. D. Dr. Richard Ponsonby-Fane Series. 1. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 374884.