800px corvus corax ad berlin 090516 Common Raven (Corvus corax). Photography credit: Accipiter (R. Altenkamp, Berlin)

Crows - Friends or Foes of Orchids

Ailments Culture Curiosity

by Anu Dharmani

Originally published in BellaOnline

Posted by Sys Admin almost 3 years ago.

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Growing orchids has been a learning experience in itself. There are so many things that I have understood better during this period. Some unexpected confrontations have made me realise that we are not alone! I am not talking about aliens here:). From point of view of 'the intelligence quotient’, we consider ourselves at the top of 'the pyramid of species', but past experiences have taught me that it may just be a false boast! We are as yet unaware of the intelligence of the other creatures which inhabit this planet along with us.

Take crows for instance. They are the cleverest creatures I have encountered. Not only are they very persistent, but are also shameless, opportunistic and devious in more ways than you or I can think of. If they find something of interest, they are going to descend like some uninvited pestering guest. Back in my childhood days, I remember my grandmother and mother telling me stories about the crafty crow. But it was only when I started growing orchids that I realised the wily ways of this bird.

Unfortunately for me and my orchids, they got interested in coconut husk binding that I used for the orchids. 

For growing orchids, I have used not only husk, but also moss, even the coir filling which is used in car seats. Out of these, I found out that crows love to pull out coconut fibers as well as coir fibers from under the orchids. The amazing thing was that I never saw them stealing the stuff. They were so devious about it! 

While doing so their beaks pull at the roots, sometimes ripping them away to expose the fibers below.

Stopping the crows has been quite a task. At first, I tried to keep the husk wet, thinking that crows would find it difficult to pull out the coconut fibers, but I misjudged their intelligence and strength. Then I tried different sizes of wire meshes; which I wrapped around the husk fibers, but still no success. I even built a scare crow, the crows actually played with it! 

Keeping in mind the story of ‘King Bruce and the Spider’:-), I persisted in my efforts; but the success was still quite far and my orchids the constant victims. I started keeping a close eye, but here too the deviousness of these pesky birds defeated my efforts to save the orchids. They would fly in whenever they found the plants alone (they must be having their own lookout for the purpose!)

Eventually, I found out that those orchids which were growing inside or in the orchidarium (i.e. the orchid house) were the ones which remained safe. So the best was to hide away the orchids. You just cannot beat the crows otherwise.

If you also have faced the crow(ly!) encounters and survived, please share it here with us. Let us know who won the round, crows or you.

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