DOWN TOWN

Feeder box for birds attracts only squirrels

A variety of grains have been placed in the feeder box.Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

A variety of grains have been placed in the feeder box.Photo: K.V. Srinivasan  

The Chennai Corporation’s ambitious plan to make public parks feeder spots for birds seems to have suffered a minor setback. A feeder box – actually a ‘plastic feeder bottle’ -- kept on an ornamental tree at the Basin Bridge park on Elephant Gate Road in Choolai has not attracted the intended beneficiaries. Instead, they draw squirrels. Birds are believed to skip the feeder box due to inadequate space on the ‘box’ for them to stand and peck at the feed.

The Basin Bridge park, also known as ‘Amma’ park after the facility was inaugurated by the Chief Minister, is the first park selected for the project and comes under ward 77 of Zone – 6 (Thiru Vi Kaa Nagar).

As sparrows, tailorbirds, sunbirds, bulbuls, parakeets and mynahs are spotted at the park, the civic body decided to initiate the project here. Also, on an average, around 500 visitors come to the park every day.

As per the plan, a variety of grains including sun flower seeds, white corn and wheat are kept in a plastic bottle tied to the tree. The feed is kept on a large plastic spoon that protrudes from the bottle.

“The idea is good, but there are practical difficulties including inaccessibility,” said B. Kumari, councillor of ward 77. One can see that grains have spilled all across the tree; and the big spoon is missing. Corporation sources said that birds were unable to perch on it as the plastic bottle is unable to hold the spoon due to frequent visits by squirrels. Frequent perching widens the hole, which results in the spoon falling. Another disadvantage is that the feeder box is kept a few feet above the floor, making it easy for visitors mainly youngsters to damage it when they try to peep into it.

“The park here has more greenery with large trees and granite footpath. Such an initiative to draw more birds to the park would also encourage more children to visit the park at least to see these birds,” said S. Kalavathi, a resident in Choolai.

According to bird enthusiasts and residents, the concept of providing feeder boxes at parks is a novel project but it should be streamlined. The existing fragile plastic one-litre empty bottle should be replaced with large wooden boxes with enough space for birds to perch on the feed.

Further, the boxes should be kept at a distance. Water must also be kept near the feeder box as birds consume more water than feed, especially when they feed chicks.

“The feeder box has been placed at the park on a trial basis. Based on the feedback from the local civic officials and residents, we would make necessary changes and fine-tune the initiative,” said a Corporation official.

The plan is to extend the initiative to 478 parks in the city.



Such an initiative to draw more birds to the park would also encourage more children to visit the park at least to see these birds



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