A group of ravens is called a congress or an unkindness, it depends on the behaviour of the group at the moment. They can be reffered to as a constable, an unkindness, or a conspiracy. If reffered to as crows they become a murder. These two birds are kith and kin: the ravens in all black everything while the crows don wife-beater vests. They are said to live for hundreds of calender years and in close knit clans although the two cannot co-exist: woe unto the solitary one found in the territory of the other. In folklore they are considered a bad omen, probably because they are scavengers and were/are a common feature in the aftermath of human disasters like a battlefield. A raven is reputed to recognize faces thus if you attack them they will haunt you and even your lookalike offsprings.
A murder of crows has muscled in into my neighbourhood and their incestant cries are an eyesore but whenever they perch on the trees of my compound the resident native ‘african fly-catcher’ (terpsiphone viridis) swarm around it, pestering it, causing such a fray that the invading offender leaves their viscinity.
Sun tzu in the art of war says that a field not occupied by birds indicates an enemy lies in hiding nearby waiting to ambush. I am not an experienced ornithologist but I am aware Kenya has a large biodiversity, over a 1000 I believe. My most favourite and easy to identify are the butcher-bird and the weaver-bird. I came to know of the former through a snippet in the kids section of the Sunday paper and the latter was in a short story in a reccommended curriculum in for lower primary school kids. In the Aves subgroup of reptiles the males are more beautiful than females; The butcher-bird has a black back and a white under-belly with zebra like stripes demarcarting but the females coat looks faded almost dusty brown: The male weaver-bird is bright yellow with dark markings while the female has a similar but dull brown coat. Even the red robin female is brown.
A tribe in Papa New Guinea hunts birds solely for their feathers, the man with the most elaborate costume is held in high esteem, sadly this generations old custom spells doom for the islanders.
I happened to pass by Nyayo stadium roundabout when they uprooted the indigenous Acacia tree on it, my heart sunk and I was angry. A number of the same on Uhuru highway and Lusaka were felled living the Marabou stork that perched on them destitute. These lanky fowls maybe considered ugly but they assist in garbage collection especially of metals. In western folklore they are the ones dispatched to deliver human babies.
Pablo Escobar is reported to have spent millions of dollars to have white egrets trained to be permanently perched on a tree in his Napoli estate. These flyers are always in a V-formation when migrating, when not in the air they hitch a ride on bovines and have a snack of ticks, bugs and grub from their hosts hide, it is symbiotic since they warn the buffalo of lions sneaking up on them.
Growing up my parents bought a turkey, my sister and I would tease it. My brother warned us that the tables would turn, true to his word we were soon held captive in the house as it pranced around our domain, my dad opted to give it to my aunt for us to regain our freedom. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, these hissing birds make just as good watchmen as a guard dog. In fortified villages they were kept in cages along the wall and would cause a raucus when an intruder approached.
The continents fit into each other like a jigsaw and it is posited they used to be one land mass but when they separated the ostrich was left on the African continent while its close cousin was marooned on the island continent. Both cannot fly and thus cannot visit one another, to each their own I guess. A chicken has wings like an eagle yet it is grounded like a rock: the former cannot soar like the latter. Its probably because the bones of the birds that can fly are hollow reducing their volume to weight ratio; pro-tip: dye your chicks purple and birds of prey won’t recognize them from the sky and swoop down on them for food.
When JFK was assassinated Malcom X was quoted saying that it was chickens coming home to roost and as a country farm boy that had never made him sad. When I wake up in the morning there are sound that are familiar and help me find my bearing. A change is as good as a rest, but change to often and too quickly can lead to chaos. One of those noises is the cockerel crowing, I’ve been a victim of chicken thieves in the recent past and more than just the loss of property it is the violation of personal space that’s unnerving. The other is rumbling of the muadhin calling muslim faithfuls to prayer, up until recently there was only one mosque as old as the town but now I am in earshot of atleast four and the static crackle before the music is more welcome than the blasts from my fellow pentecosts who knowingly or unknowingly are damaging the ear drums of their flock. Another is the birds chirping which is them being passive aggressive more than anything else.
The most unique is the fact I reside on an international flight path position where they make a salute/turn, the iron bird sound like a whale and I cannot help but watch them descend into JKIA once in awhile. What captain would land their craft into a state that is in turmoil. Just yesterday I saw what I believe to be an american fighter jet, they are currently involved in a renewed offensive against al shabab in Somalia, a quarter century since black hawk down