Sunday, February 19, 2012

On 21st December 2011 we watched a Large-Billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos harassing a Long-Billed Vulture Gyps indicus on a tree near the periphery of the park in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh .

There was a carcass of a dead cow near by beyond the boundary and a few vultures and crows were waiting for the skinners of the carcass to go away so that they could come down to feed. In fact the vultures and crows had already found this kill in the morning but had been disturbed at their meal by the skinners.
A large bill crow did not like the Long Billed Vulture sitting next to him in the queue for a feed. He considered him a competitor for the food.

He watched him for few minutes and made a few harsh noises and then suddenly attacked the bigger bird sitting next to him on a low branched tree next to the walled boundary. Initially the vulture ignored him but the crow was getting more persistent and violent in his attacks. The crow was viciously pecking the intimidated vulture on the back, pulling his tail from the bottom, and, when he found that the vulture was more in self-defense the annoying crow literally sat on the poor vultures back and started continuously hammering him with his large bill.
This was way too much for the vulture so he too tried to catch the nimble crow. At this point the crow jumped off his back and sat down a few inches away from the much bigger scavenger but on the same branch.
This was when we saw some very interesting and clever behaviour done by this bright brained crow. He peeled a small piece of tree bark off the branch and appeared to show it to the vulture and then simply dropped it.

To us it looked like as if he was suggesting that he had dropped some food and that his competitor should go and grab it. The vulture did look down at this piece of bark on the floor but did not go to retrieve it.

Not fooled by this activity at all the vulture was once more attacked by the persistent crow and finally it was the bigger scavenger that lost his perch and flew away.
The crow had won the battle!

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