Friday, June 3, 2005

Learning Teamwork From the Crows

Now most of us know that crows are highly intelligent birds. Yes, I am talking of that ubiquitous black bird that you see on those cables crisscrossing the sky.
If you pull out an entry from an encyclopedia like the Wikipedia, it'll inform you that crows:
"As a group they show remarkable examples of intelligence; it would not be at all an exaggeration to characterize crows as being to birds what higher primates (including humans) are to mammals."
Some crows are known to " to manufacture and use its own tools in the day-to-day finding of food."

Today I saw that these dudes also exhibit teamwork to a degree that would shame us who are used to work, (in office lingo) in "cross-functional teams" to ensure "quality deliverables."

I was commuting from Ghatkopar to Andheri, via the Andheri-Ghatkopar road. The road was choked with vehicles as usual and my rickshaw was stuck in this spot near Asalpha for some minutes. Just a few yards away from my where my rickshaw had halted, there was these group of crows who were trying to breakfast at a much flattened, though obviously fresh, roadkill. Now all these crows were trying to do was enjoy their rodent in peace and get on with the day but the heavy traffic kept interrupting their repast. Not to mention, the traffic also kept "re-flattening" the few bits and pieces that these crows had managed to peck loose. And after a few such interruptions you could make out that the crows had had enough. "Something needs to be done!" was the crow going round the breakfast table.

So what did these guys do? What they actually did called for some nifty coordination and timing. The crows waited till there was a lull in the traffic. Then three swooped down in perfect formation, flying wing-tip to wing-tip, and landed at three coordinates around the roadkill. Then each got a good grip on the flattened rodent in his (or her) beak. Two pulled, the third appeared to simultaneously lift the breakfast up and they got it clean off the road. Then they just nodded to each other (like well-trained commandos no caws were exchanged) and took off simultaneously, carrying their food with them. A short flight and the three landed on the roof of a shop nearby to the rousing cheers from others of their kind. Then they got down to it.

And the traffic, after seeing this marvelous bit of teamwork, flowed smoothly to the next jam.

1 comment:

SatishTalim said...

Interesting observation!