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The Dark Knight of Kabini!

Black Drongo, Kabini -

If you were to call someone a ‘Drongo’ on a visit to Australia, be prepared to either show a clean pair of heels or to settle it outside, man to man. For, down under, the term is used to refer to someone who’s a stupid no-hoper. The slang originates from a famous racehorse of that name that never won a single race out of thirty seven starts. Obviously, our Aussie mates have never set foot in Kabini, where the fair name of the Drongo stands for the highest tenets of intelligence and courage. The Black Drongo of Kabini is a small, dark-hued, fork-tailed bird. But don’t be misled by its size, for this is a hell of a lot of spunk and fight packed into a small bird. If you’d like testimonials to its ferocity, just ask the crows and kites of Kabini, and there’ll be enough scarred veterans who’ll testify to its fearlessness even against much larger predators. Perhaps that’s why this ‘King Crow’, as it’s commonly called, is considered the God of small birds, and grateful Orioles, Bulbuls and Warblers find sanctuary by nesting nearby. Of greater interest to us, though, is the fact that they are a farmer’s best friend and are courted through artificial perches to roost in the fields and weed out offending caterpillars, beetle-grubs and other destructive pests. These fearless hunters show their softer side by serenading their lovers with birdsong; they often lock wings and beaks together in flight, and sometimes crash to the ground, thus giving new meaning to ‘falling’ in love. If only there was an avian audience for Hollywood, there’s no doubt who’d play the role of the black-caped crusader who disarms the big baddies and lovely ladies with equal felicity. And we’re sure it’d play to packed audiences…even in Australia!

Photograph: Sanket Reddy Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy



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