Andhra Pradesh

'Chilaka' as State bird of Andhra Pradesh: The choice of parakeet ruffles some feathers

A pair of parakeets perched atop the branch of a tree.   | Photo Credit: V_RAJU

The rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula Krameri), known as the ‘Ramachilaka’, is very popular with poets and lyricists. Ideal couples are compared to a pair of parakeets. The male is distinguished by a rose-pink collar. The quintessential female is ‘chilaka’.

‘Chilaka Joshyam’, where a parakeet foretells the stars, is also very popular in the Telugu States.

Though there was general appreciation when the State government had announced the dimorphic bird as the State bird recently, it has also triggered a debate. For ornithologists and conservationists, it is a wrong choice but a right one for those rooted in Telugu culture.

None other than birdman of India, Salim Ali, has something unpleasant to say about them. In his The Book of Indian Birds, he describes it as “highly destructive at all times to crops and orchard fruit, gnawing and wasting far more than it actually eats”. Britain officially declared it as a pest in 2009 and seriously considered culling them in 2016 for displacing the local birds.

The conservationists feel that the new State has lost a great opportunity to project Jerdon’s Courser, which is found only in the State and is highly endangered. It’s locally called ‘Adavi Uthatitti’ meaning ‘jungle empty purse’. Declared extinct in 1900, it emerged eight and half decades later in January 1986. Subsequently, the Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary was created to protect it, said former Assistant Conservator or Forest P Gracious. A great message could have been sent by selecting it, he said.

On the other side, there are those like Banaras Hindu University professor Bhudathi Venkateswarlu who contends that the parakeet has a very significant place in the Telugu culture. “Chiluka is the vahana of Manmadha (Indian Cupid). Sweet and pleasant words (chiluka palukulu) are compared to the chattering of the parakeets and finally the fruit half eaten by these birds is considered very sweet,” he says. Activist of Telugu language movement G V Purnachand says though the choice is okay, rooster which ‘reflects Telugu pride’, would have been better.

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Printable version | Apr 29, 2021 11:40:34 AM |

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