"Eating crow" in Colombo

Thursday, 21 April 2016
One of the first things that stood out to me in Colombo was the MASSIVE amounts of crows on the ground, in the air, in the trees, working their way through the trash, on phones lines... The House Crow is extremely common in Colombo and I would say there are more crows here than pigeons in New York City (and that's saying something).
Have you ever woken up and without looking at the clock thought, is it morning yet? Well, when that happens here, you just listen for the crows. They begin stirring before dawn and before the first call to prayer by the mosque near our apartment you hear thousands of choruses of KAH KAH!
Because of research, we know that crows are extremely intelligent, have complex social structures, and can learn tricks. They have brains the size of a human thumb which is quite large in proportion to their bodies. That's one of the reasons scientists say they are like primates.
Crows are opportunistic and scavenge for food. I asked a naturalist at one of the national parks in Sri Lanka why there are so many crows in the city. He looked at me like I was thick in the head and exclaimed, "Because of ALL THE FOODS [sic]!"
Sri Lanka is a beautiful, relatively clean country but the idea of depositing trash in receptacles and not on the ground is still catching on. This means that the neighborhood dogs and crows are able to find a feast pretty easily. When I Googled, "Sri Lanka Crows" not much came up except for an interesting excerpt in a book, Buddha in Sri Lanka: Remembered Yesterdays by Swarna Wickremeratne.
In the book, Wickremeratne tells us about a little known New Year tradition in Sri Lanka. He said that some would feed crows because it was believed to be a "meritorious act." They did this because people believed that crows were always hungry (they have been tricking people into feeding them for centuries!). As a child, the author learned of a folklore derived from Buddhism: crows were so hungry and always calling for food because in a past life they denied food to the needy, even those begging for just a morsel.
After reading this, my theory is that people in Sri Lanka have been feeding crows since the times of Buddha so the population has morphed into what it is today. Of course in the urban areas, there is more trash, and therefore more food, so these smart birds have a good life here. 
I enjoy birding and it is fun to watch what they are up to. I've even tried to get some of their antics on camera but they seem to play dumb when I'm recording. They know! 

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