Metroplus

Bring them again

PLANT TREES And enjoy some bird song early in the morning Photo: By Author  

Wouldn't you rather wake up to the perky twittering of the red vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) scoffing the luscious bunch of ripe dates on your exotic Miniature Flame Thrower palm tree (Actinokentia divaricata) in the garden? Rather than the dusty rumble of a bus or the air horn of the Indica cab rushing by your house? Most definitely given the choice, we would all prefer the sound of our twittering feathered friends. Even a tiny patch of green can support a palm, or a small to medium sized Camel Foot (Bauhinia purpurea) or even a Jamaican Cherry Tree (Muntingia calabura) with its sweet sticky fruit.

The exotic Miniature Flame Thrower palm tree (Actinokentia divaricata) is fruiting at this time of year attracting the Bulbuls during the day and bats at night. Large bunches of golden yellow ‘dates' which are not edible by humans, encourage a twittering chorus throughout the day even if your home is off a busy arterial road. The palms grow quickly and can even be propagated from the seeds of the fruit quite easily in an earthen container. Each bunch of fruit holds over a hundred ‘dates' and so you will have the birds frequenting in pairs to feast on the ripe fruit. At night bats make swift and silent forays into the garden under cover of darkness to eat their fill of the fruit. Swooping in silent arcs around the tree, even that is an enjoyable sight for those who enjoy their predator like movements.

The Camel Foot tree has long seed pods which the Ring-necked Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) love to indulge in. A gregarious bird you will find their bright green feathers flashing through the tree snapping off the un-ripened pods and eating the beans or seeds in them. Granted they make a mess of the floor below the tree, but it is an engaging sight for bird lovers to see these birds in the wild, up close and personal. The birds are a non-migratory species, and are very popular as pets across the country, they noisily make their presence felt by squabbling and squawking over the seed pods on the tree.

The Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) also can be found happily feasting on the Jamaican Cherry Tree early in the morning along with the Bulbuls. Their loud mettalic tuk, tuk call is the most familiar sound we can wake up to at this time of year, in the city. A medium-sized bird it is brightly coloured with a yellow face, black eye stripes and a scarlet fore crown and throat patch.

“But most importantly trees provide food and shelter for birds and a variety of wildlife. Nectar attracts birds, butterflies and bees and bats, birds and squirrels feed on all types of fruit,” says Dr. Krishna M.B. a well-known Bangalore ornithologist. So if you want to bring back the Bangalore we all once knew, and enjoy some bird song early in the morning, just grow a tree or palm that fruits to feed the birds. They have learnt to evolve and live uncomplainingly along with us humans, who have usurped all their space and their green cover.



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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 9:46:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/bring-them-again/article2138968.ece

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