Nature

Cuckoo, rains and morality…

Jacobin cuckoo

Cuckoo, harbinger of rains, keeper of time… some resident, some migrant, all parasite… ‘tis a rather intriguing avian, the cuckoo… biologically, culturally, philosophically, or etymologically… at times endearing, at times appalling…

‘Twas a Jacobin cuckoo that we’d spotted, meandering through a rather sultry afternoon in Orchha looking for birds… as is the norm with this species, the bird was all prim and proper, the crest combed back and the plumage gleaming with good health… a visitor from Africa, its migration coincides with the arrival of monsoons, heralding the arrival of rains… maybe one of the reasons why ‘tis venerated as chataka in Indian mythology, a bird that only drinks rainwater to quench its thirst and thus pines forlornly for the clouds… an expression of yearning as captured by Kalidasa… although there have been suggestions that it could be a common iora or a crested lark instead of the cuckoo…

On the other hand, though, there’s that entire issue of brood parasitism, tricking those naïve enough into raising its young while it carries on with the globetrotting… the offspring adding insult to injury as it tries to dispose of the parents’ own eggs… one does get flummoxed with this evolutionary instinct, thinking of these other birds (babblers and bulbuls in the case of Jacobin cuckoo mostly) raising the infiltrator… ‘tis either ingenuousness or an unbridled piety towards life in any form…

If we mull over the morality of it, the parasitic parents and the unsuspecting fosterers are diametrically opposite, but in the annals of biological evolution, perfectly complementary to each other… the Jacobin cuckoo can be acquitted in this regard for it doesn’t evict the original eggs, although the attention seeking behaviour remains…

Then there’s the one who flew over its (non-existent) nest… a western attribution of insanity, in stark contrast to the extolments of the east… but one knows east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet anyway… for someone precocious enough to trick other birds into raising its young, it does seems rather irrational though to deem it a symbol of dim-wittedness, but this is a larger malaise, for one could say the same about being bird-brained as well…

This cuckoo was rather demure, giving a wide berth to the exasperating birdwatchers… but after five minutes or so, it’d had enough of the shutterbugs, and everybody went their own way… the bird to find a mate and the humans looking for birds around medieval temples…   

Birds

Jacobin cuckoo

Jacobin cuckoo

Jacobin cuckoo

Musing on a Jacobin cuckoo, Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

Author: Parth Joshi

Mountain lover ⛰️ | Hiker 🥾| Runner 🏃‍♂️ | Cyclist 🚴 | Photographer 📷... allured by the outdoors, the author is a quintessential lost soul craving for the outdoors while suffering in a desk job...

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