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Updated: June 20, 2011 16:11 IST

Watch the birds

ROHINI RAMAKRISHNAN
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Ranjit Lal gives us a glimpse of the feathered creatures he sights from his window in Birds From The Window. Photo: Special Arrangement
Ranjit Lal gives us a glimpse of the feathered creatures he sights from his window in Birds From The Window. Photo: Special Arrangement

A quirky book that will introduce you to birds — the Brahminy Myna, the Magpie Robin, the Grey Partridge and more…

“We're the smartest and best and all that,

Said the crow who was having a chat,

“Good,” smiled the black koel, “Then you will be able

To feed and raise all my brats!”

Ranjit Lal gives us a glimpse of the feathered creatures he sights from his window in Birds From The Window… and the antics they get up to. The hilarious limericks (as the one above about the relationship between the crows and the koels), are a great introduction to lay persons. From the fast disappearing house sparrows to the tiny sun birds, to the swift kingfisher, not forgetting the peacocks that dance in the cemetery next door, to the eagles and owls amongst the other many, this birdman paints us a portrait of each bird, with all its peculiar characteristics, quirky nature, behavioural habits and even the nature of their call.

Witty descriptions of the “almost human” behaviour, makes one smile as we realise “oh yes, I know a person like this too”.

Did you think that the icons of peace are peace loving birds? Then think again. Check out “Quarrelsome Birds of Peace,” and when they fight, they are at each other with all they've got.

Now who would have thought that the vultures of all creatures are the cleanest of birds? Well, they are according to Ranjit Lal. They not only clean and preen themselves with great care but help us by their scavenging services to keep our environment clean by eating dead animals.

And of course the peacock…

“The peacock is our National Bird,

All over the world is revered,

But this beautiful dancer

And proud dark blue prancer

Should only be seen and not heard.”

The peafowl are reputed to be excellent guards because of their sharp eyesight and keen hearing and warn other creatures with their unearthly cries when a tiger is prowling. In fact Ranjit Lal notes that some high security prisons use them to guard the compounds!

And so the list goes on, bird after bird — some funny, some witty, some sad, some thought provoking but each embedded in our minds. Now we see these feathered friends that colour our world differently.

Simply, a delicious read.

BIRDS FROM MY WINDOW AND THE ANTICS THEY GET UP TO, Ranjit Lal, Scholastic, Rs 125

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