I love birds because they are like natural aeroplanes. Quite a few of Kerala’s birds also live in Sharjah. I see mynahs, laughing doves and crows at the bus-stop, and in my school yard there are many small sparrows. They bathe and drink from the bird bath placed under a date palm in front of the school. In the evenings, at Corniche park, Sharjah, you can spot pigeons, doves, mynahs, crows, sparrows and sometimes even pairs of bulbuls.
There are many seagulls on the island near the park. I even glimpsed what I though were cranes near the creek; I later found out, at Sharjah zoo, that they were actually Indian pond herons!
I have never seen a laughing dove near my home in Kerala. It is a small bird; its back, wings and tail are reddish-brown with blue-grey on the wings. The head and underparts are a sort of pink, and the belly white. It has black spots on its throat. Its legs are red. Its cry is a low oo-took-took-oo-roo. Laughing doves can be seen all over the city: on the roads, rooftops, in parks, etc.
The common mynah is very similar to the one we see in Kerala. It has a brown body, a black hooded head, and a yellow patch behind the eye. Its beak and legs are bright yellow. There is a white patch on the outer wing lining, and the underside is white too. Mynahs are always in groups; they screech whenever their partners are out of sight! My mother says that she and her sister, when they were young, believed that sighting a single mynah could invite misfortune, like a beating, while a pair of mynahs brought good luck in the form of sweets. That’s so funny!
Crows in Sharjah are the same as crows in Kerala. There is a very old man in front of the mosque who feeds all the crows in the park. Another superstition is that whoever feeds birds will live longer. I am sure this must have been thought up by a bird-lover!
I often wonder how these mynahs and crows came here to Sharjah. I know that they are listed under the ‘invasive species’ category, which means they enter areas and take them over. Mynahs and crows are like terrorists trying to capture regions! Their numbers multiply extremely fast often making native birds extinct.
I dedicate this write-up to Dr Salim Ali who is known as ‘the birdman of India’.
(Adithya Pradeep Kumar studies in Std IV B, at The Millennium School in Dubai)
Infochange News & Features, February 2011