Offbeat - A chirpy story of how four pairs of sparrows have made a family's living room their home…

Visitors at Napoleons' house in Santhome are greeted with a twitter of sparrows.

For four years, this family has shared the living room with these passerine birds.

They have not disturbed the nest — built inside a broad wooden prop for a screen — where the chirps and tweets come from.

Over the years, four successive pairs of sparrows have re-built and modified the nest and raised their young.

Many fledglings

“In all, 70 fledglings have flown out of this house since 2008, when we moved in,” says Rathna Napoleon. “I don't have a rational explanation for the attraction that this nook holds for the sparrows.”

Our conversation is interrupted by a female sparrow that alights on the window, a worm in her beak. She darts to the nest and leaves soon to gather more food for her brood of chicks. For the next feeding session, she is accompanied by her mate. The male sits on the window and keeps watch.

Rathna explains that her family has adjusted considerably to these birds.

“Ever since a fledgling was hit by the fan, we avoid using the fans when we realise it's time for the little ones to take to off.”

She is given to rebuking her tall son, 22-year-old Einstein Napoleon — a cricketer who was in the Chennai Super Kings squad for three IPL seasons — whenever he lifts his hands and appears likely to disturb the nest.

Lessons learnt

“In 2009, a brood of five chicks fell. We took them back to the nest, but the parents would have nothing to do with them. We have also noticed sparrows distancing themselves from nests that have been rearranged,” says Rathna.

“Every pair builds its nest afresh — in the same spot, though — and displays an emotional attachment to it.”

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012