Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Birds in my life

Living in an area, which has hills and a lake nearby, and in a society with more trees than buildings,we always have frequent visitors of the feathered kind. And thanks to a friend who was devoted to 'bird-watching'(the right kind) I even learned to identify our guests.

Our annual visitors are Mr. and Mrs Tailorbird. We have this particular plant in our terrace, with long leaves, ideally suited for their nest. The first time they came, we were fascinated by the entire nest making process. Using cotton and thread(no idea where those little birds even found this stuff) they wove two leaves together into a perfect cone. Once the chicks were born, the poor parents were continually stressed out, hunting insects to feed them with. We often entertained ourselves by lightly shaking the plant when the parents were away. Instantly, the chicks would stretch out and start opening and shutting their beaks. But if mum and dad happened to be there, they would start trilling a warning and the chicks would dive inside, hidden perfectly. The chicks soon grew fat and fell out of their nest. Honestly, they were bigger than their parents with stumpy little wings that flapped feebly. We had fun chasing the green fuzz balls while they hopped around, and this encouraged them to try harder, until they eventually flew away.

Then we had Mrs Dove. Earlier, our terrace was uncovered, and we had a shelf that we had built into the wall to keep pots on. She had built her nest in one such pot. Unfortunately, Mrs Dove didn't have a very good experience with us. She laid 2 eggs, of which only one hatched. And then 1 day the little chick just disappeared and so did Mrs Dove. Most probably a vicious crow had eaten her baby.

Speaking of crows, they are the mafia lords of this area. There is a huge tree here with a large number of crows' nests. Not only do we have crows, but also their larger and meaner cousins the ravens. I have seen one catch a fan-tailed drongo(a sparrow sized bird with a Japanese fan like tail) in mid-flight. One particularly bold specimen had also once pecked me hard on the back of my head, while I was eating a snack on the terrace. I was stunned,but I didn't drop the treat and the poor fellow had to fly away disappointed. (Not before giving me a disgruntled look though :D) Now that the terrace is covered, the supporting poles beneath the roof have become a cozy monsoon retreat for crow couples. You'll find them sitting there and watching the rain - and they are kind enough to leave behind droppings as payment :(

Then we have the red-vetted bulbuls. They are my favourites. I used to leave grapes and other fruit treats for them on the bedroom windowsill. Since this particular window is usually open, they flew in and attempted to build a nest on the tubelight. But they quickly dropped the idea when they realized that the window could be shut and they could be denied access to their home by outside forces :) Eventually, the nest was built on the ground-floor tubelight of our building. But they continue to come and sing for treats. :)

By singing, I am reminded of Mr.Sparrow. He was a pain! He had a ' singing phase' where he would come everyday to the above mentioned window and chirp incessantly 4 am onwards. Later on, we discovered that its the sparrow's mating ritual. Once they have found an ideal nesting spot, they keep calling out, until a female comes, inspects and approves of the place. This did happen and he left us in peace. (We tried searching for the nest later, but it was well hidden in the rafter above.)

In the same rafters we have also had tree sparrows make their nest. (We found this one- its empty now and beautiful! Like a dome made of woven grass) Tree sparrows are a deep brown in color and very shy- unlike their 'common' cousins. We would leave puffed rice for them-and they would eat it only after complicated maneuvers that involved staking out the area atleast 5 times and then hopping from grill to grill in a very round-about fashion.

My bird stories don't end here. We have had pigeons building nests above our bathroom window(only they could bully Mr Sparrow and make him fly away for some time), humming birds come in to sip the nectar when the gladiola bloomed(in my covered terrace- how did they find it?) and parrots who come to eat the beans off this particular tree. We have the cuckoo in spring time-(We still coo back at him in our 'cuckoo' moments - pun intended), the babblers who harass us with their continual babbling(shrieks that resemble the keening of a wounded dog ), and the Indian pheasant(Bharatbaaj), on seeing which we religiously fold our palms and make a wish.

Love them birds. :)


  1. hey nice one :)
    Even i live in a quiet hilly area full of trees..So we too have many birds flying around..
    One particularly irritating one (Ruta will also vouch for it) chirps at 2 am... :( Is it my assumption or for real..dunno..but this fellow usually shows up in PLs... Sigh !
    N btw in marathi stories ...sparrows are usually called "chiu tai" ...why "mr.sparrow" ?? :D

  2. Because this one was male na- The female was really quiet and nice

  3. @ Shweta

    It is still called "chiu tai"!!
    Nice post!!
    I haven't seen much birds. But the Bharadwaaj (Bharatbaaz) strikes awe!!

    Keep writing!! :)

  4. Thanks.
    But if I was talking about a male sparrow how can I call it miss???
    (Even in Marathi somebody would say 'chimna')

  5. Interesting...Some people love bird watching.
    But it must be interesting to see birds nesting, hatching and flying as grown up birdies...