Downtown

“I never allow them to go hungry”

Parrots seen at Kilpauk Photo: R. Ragu   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

Every morning, residents of a house at Temple Road in Medavakkam Tank Colony, Kilpauk, wake up to chirps and squawks. For S. Veeralakshmi and A. Sivakumar, these are always the first sounds they hear in a day.

Every morning and evening, parakeets flock to their terrace for a feed. Veeralakshmi and Sivakumar never disappoint them. Veeralakshmi treats them to raw rice, which is placed on the sidewalls of the terrace. She drops the raw rice on the floor for the pigeons to peck and eat. “Unlike pigeons which get down from the parapets , parakeets prefer to feed perched on the walls,” says Veeralakshmi. The chirp of these parrots is like children calling their parents, she adds.

The parakeets used to flock to a four-decade-old mango tree, which was at the house until five years ago, when the ancestral house was demolished to give way for construction of apartments . Though the mango tree was chopped down, the parakeets have continued to flock to the terrace. Along with pigeons, the parakeets visit the terrace between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. “We are surprised at how punctual they are,” says Veeralakshmi.

Initially, only a small group of parakeets flocked to the terrace. Slowly, other parrots started visiting too. .

The building is surrounded by decades-old coconut and mango trees. “Usually, I feed them only in the morning as I go out for work in the evening. But, I keep enough feed on the terrace for the parakeets to eat in the evening too. I never allow them to go hungry,” says the 48-year-old homemaker.

A native of Tirunelveli , Veeralakshmi grew up in Kolkota where she did her graduation before settling down in Kilpauk after marriage.

Veeralakshmi is trained in rooftop gardening and has helped her neighbours set up a rooftop garden.

She was inspired to feed the parakeets seeing her brother Lakshmanan who does the same in Kolkata.

Her neighbours and friends chip in, helping her buy feed from PDS outlets. Every day, on an average, she feeds around five kilograms of rice to the birds. . A few gunny bags with rice and wheat can be seen in a small room on the terrace.

“Even if we are not in city, we ask our servants or neighbours to feed these birds,” she says. “They love to do that.”

Veeralakshmi can be contacted at 9710749492, 9710751105.



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Printable version | May 8, 2021 12:35:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/i-never-allow-them-to-go-hungry/article7164547.ece

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