Encounters With a Black Kite

These are some exceedingly bad quality photographs of a black kite (or a hawk) which used to perch outside my bedroom window in Kolkata.

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I never got around to naming him (I prefer to think of the kite as male for some reason). He seemed too dignified to abase with a cutesy nickname. Although he had vicious looking talons and a sharp beak, I was never afraid of him.

After a few days of admiring him quietly, I decided to try to feed him. So I grabbed the nearest biscuit tin and cautiously placed a few cream cracker biscuit fragments in front of him. He did not fly away, but scooted away reproachfully, until I had retracted my hand. To my intense surprise, he picked up the cream cracker with his talons and began to eat it.

(Digression: The misleadingly named ‘cream crackers’ are something like graham crackers and contain no cream whatsoever. They are fairly ubiquitous in India, forming a staple addition to tea along with ‘Marie’ biscuits.)

I had not expected my visiting kite to devour my cream crackers with the alacrity of the common pigeon. I searched the net and decided that he was a black kite. From my research I ascertained that cream crackers are not the preferred diet of black kites.

And yet, he returned every evening and dutifully ate most of the cream crackers I served him. He became less wary of me and no longer shied away while I put the cream cracker fragments on the ledge.

But he never became my pet. There was always an indefinable air of dignity and aloofness about him that prevented any attempts at excessive familiarity. I like to think of our tentative relationship as a friendship.

It’s been more than two years since I moved from Kolkata. The apartment where I lived is now empty. I wonder if my kite still comes to that ledge and waits for me.


8 responses to “Encounters With a Black Kite

  1. another interesting aspect of this bird is that there is a socio-political calamity it brings. The black kite is referred to as a Pariah Kite as opposed to its fairer family member referred to as the Brahminy Kite – both of which sound racially sensitive

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