They seem to be building their neat, round nests everywhere

Instead of the chirping of sparrows, in Bangalore today, the bulbul seems to be taking over. We have two families which have set up nurseries in our garden at the moment.

One in the bougainvillea hedge and the second daintily perched on the slim branches of the Christmas tree in a pot.

Unlike sparrows, which built untidy nests, made of rags and waste, the bulbul nest is neat; almost like a work of art. Both nests are built by the Red Whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) and they wake us with their liquid calls and inquisitively call out throughout the day, as they forage and return, beaks full of food for the hungry fledglings.

Bangaloreans from across the city are eagerly sharing their stories about Bulbuls nesting. “We were delighted to host bulbuls who made their nest in our balcony,” says Berenice da Gama Rose concert pianist and micro- finance analyst.

“We watched their progress from nest-building, to laying of three pinkish-brown eggs, to the hatching of tiny alien-lookalikes who quickly grew into spiny-feathered little dinosaurs whose mouths were always open, waiting for grubs, berries and even bits of chapati to be inserted by their tireless parents. We even had to do guard duty, protecting the fledglings from a greedy crow which sadly attacked and ate the youngest. Two flew to safety though, and now the parents are back again, tidying the nest and doing some minor repairs before the next season.”

The accompanying picture is taken by Chandrakantha Ursu, a Software engineer at Delphi. He says, “The nest was built in our backyard in the pumpkin creeper. Luckily the nest was visible from the window, with the camera 35X optical zoom. The pumpkin creeper was attached to a wall and the nest was built at a height of six to seven feet from the ground. As soon as the bird sat on any branch of the plant on which the nest was built, the chicks used to pick-up the vibration and start calling for food. The food could be as big as grass-hoppers and surprisingly they were swallowed in few seconds.”

Vishwa, another avid birder shares, “About 10 days ago, we noticed that a bird was making a nest in a tiny bush in our back-yard, just one and a half meters from my window.

So our family of five enjoyed watching the proceedings. Kids specially enjoy the activity of feeding the little ones, which seems to be incredibly frequent. We have ensured that we do the watching from a distance only. We believe that we should not be invasive at all and hence have not even ventured to take pictures, let alone going close.”

Answering the question on how long the fledglings take to leave the nest, Krishna MB, a renowned ornithologist says, “They might spend about two weeks in the nest after hatching, with the incubation taking about two weeks. So all in all the nest should be used for about a month.”

So if you hear the perky call of a pair of Bulbuls busy weaving their delicate round nest, for their clutch of eggs, feel blessed that they chose your garden or balcony and enjoy the beauty of nature up close and personal.