Children

Those freaky feathered friends

Each morning, if I haven’t already been shaken out of my slumber by the sonorous ‘koo-oo-oo, koo-oo’ of the Koel at 4 am, I awake to the cheery ‘cheer, cheer,’ of hordes of sparrows jostling with each other on my balcony while they breakfast on the birdfeed.

Soon it is time for the gang of squawking parakeets to repast on their treat of peanuts. It is most amusing to watch their dramatic gestures, sometimes fondling each other affectionately, sometimes quarrelling vociferously and tugging at each other’s tails.

The party of green feathers is rudely interrupted when a solitary, Jungle Crow enters the scene. Noisily flapping their wings, they take off in haste, leaving the loot for Mr Crow.

From not very far off, I get to hear the shrill soprano chattering of the White-breasted Kingfisher happily swinging on the TV cable and announcing to all and sundry his success at hunting down its prey — be it a dragonfly, lizard or fish.

Once the early-morning performers exit their stage (my balcony), I step out for a whiff of fresh air and what do I see? A pair of Red-vented Bulbuls taking turns to stand guard over their chicks in their cup-shaped nest inside the bougainvillea bush while the other partner goes food-hunting.

I gaze at the mango leaves swaying to give a glimpse of something golden yellow. It’s a Black-hooded Oriole! The bird doesn’t quite approve of my excited body language and goes back into hiding, voicing its protest in fluty tones.

Later in the day as I sit to work at my computer I get startled by a clear and loud ‘To-meet, to-meet, to-meet’. I look with an amused knowing smile at my latest visitor who wants to meet his lady love — the Tailor Bird.

The song ends once he meets his lady love. But another bird, clad in a coat of black and white feathers, the Magpie Robin, has now begun to render his sweet, plaintive, heart-wrenching ballad to his sweetheart. He likes to do this from atop the coconut tree fronds while his lady love, not far off, listens in stupefied awe.

In the afternoon I settle down for a siesta and who should come along but the Purple-rumped Sunbird — for its drink of nectar from the Thunbergia flowers. It announces its arrival with a high-pitched ‘chee-chee’. In spite of its long, curved beak which it could easily probe into the mouth of the flower, it has learnt to ‘nip in the bud’ by taking a short cut directly into the nectary in the calyx — thus saving time and energy.

There are many more of my feathered friends residing in Dadar Parsi Colony where I live. They bring great joy, colour and music to my life. These birds have shown amazing resilience and are the urban survivors, enduring the loud sounds of drilling, building construction, honking cars, decline in the number of trees which have given way to monstrous towers.


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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 9:29:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/those-freaky-feathered-friends/article37337011.ece

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