Monday, April 16, 2007

Sally Glean

Did you wonder after the last post who the squabblers were and what they were squabbling over? I'll take the long route.

Among insectivorous birds, there two sorts of hunting habits. One sort in which the birds sally forth, leave their perches high above the ground and chase insects mid air and catch them in flight. The slender, aerodynamic and beautiful flycatchers fall in this category, as do the bee-eaters. The more quotidian habit is to grub about in the grass and undergrowth to catch what hops about there, to glean. To pick up the leftovers. And off course, the dull, common as dirt Mynas are gleaners. Poor things, boring in their habits and not rare enough to excite attention almost ever. Not even as smart as the crows.

But thats the beauty that is biology, every once in a while the commonplace is not itself. The first April showers came and with them came the dispersing insects, termites and ants, out to set up new life. An abundance usually prompts something equally exciting elsewhere. I was on the roof again, the light finished for the day just catching my breath, when I realized that although I was done, the birds were not. So I pulled out my camera and waited.

My weak non nocturnal eyes would pick up a little flicker in the air somewhere and it would be snapped up in an instant by a sallying myna, starling or crow. They looked like the flat lizards straight out of Planet Earth's Deserts episode. For just a little while, the myna's behaviorally adapted and shifted to being salliers, and became for me a little more special.

The squabblers in the previous post were two crows demonstrating their usual adaptability, joining the mynas at the hunt. They arrived at a flying insect at the same time and nearly snapped each other's faces off.

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