Friday, April 27, 2007

Why not, prey?

The sky over Karachi is thick with birds. There’s nothing so odd about that, obviously, since many cities have flocks of starlings or sparrows or pigeons or what have you looping about the skyline. In Karachi, however, they are kites (Or maybe eagles - opinion seemed divided). Large birds of prey circling, hovering, and swooping round the city – in whichever direction you look you can see them there. A picture, not taken by me, of what I'm talking about.

At first I was a bit taken aback by this – after all it is something I don’t recall seeing before – but later when I thought about it, I realised that it wasn’t actually that odd. A city must be a great place to hang out as a bird of prey, since it plays host to a vast quantity of rats and mice. What’s odd, I realised, is that it is unusual. Why is it that other cities are not so similarly blessed with an airborne rodent control system? Have the birds just not sussed out that cities are a rich source of scuttling mammal-food? Or have they been dissuaded from hovering over the cities by some other factor?

Carrion and rubbish eaters you often see in towns – crows, seagulls, marabou storks (if you’ve never seen a marabou stork, you have missed nothing. They are quite the most repulsive bird on the planet – a fact not helped by their reliance on garbage as a food source), but rarely out and out predators. Foxes have apparently colonised London, and closer to home, bears are often found in Brasov and Tusnad (though again I think they rely on rooting through rubbish), but why are there not more eagles, hawks and other birds of prey in cities? There must be a reason.

Meanwhile, here for your visual pleasure is a picture of a gorgeous looking marabou stork, looking uncannily like Tony Greig (Possibly only people who have recently been exposed to Indian TV cricket coverage will get this comparison, but trust me)


mansoor said...

lovely article dude
i've cross posted thsi on karachi metroblogs, a blog about the city of karachi.

MB said...

Great post. A fellow has posted a blog topic on your artile at KMB

verysmart said...

Karachi plays host to nearly 2.5 million Afghan migrants since 1980s. Some rather bizzare Afghan traditions includes feeding raw meat to birds of prey considering them as the carriers of prayers to heavens.

You will find eagles circling skies above mostly all the localities where Afghan migrants are settled in Karachi.

By the way this is an ancient afghan tadition, and has nothing to do with Islam at all.