If the marketing whiz kids at those multinational companies could just brand and sell them, the Small Pratincoles of Kabini would probably be their No.1 bestsellers, at least with harassed housewives looking for deliverance from termites and bugs. These grey little shore birds are perhaps the most efficient insect hunters around, and are so confident of their skills that they even forsake their designated river banks to do a spot or two of aerial hawking for dinner. So what if they are classified by the scientific community as ‘waders’? So what if good, well behaved waders are meant to peck at whatever fare is laid out on their aqueous tables, and not look further afield? Like the hero of the allegorical fable, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, they delight in the joy of flying; breaking free of conformity and the limitations of their class. However, in a small twist to the tale, they show how flying free can aid in a higher form of feeding by using finely honed aerobatic skills to hunt their prey on the wing. While they do occasionally pay heed to the waders’ creed by picking up insects off the river bank, they mostly prefer a mid air battle with flying termites, beetles and bugs, where the philosophy is, ‘winner eats all.’ And, more often than not, the Small Pratincole’s battle cry ends with a satisfied burp.
We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.