During these difficult times during Covid-19 and the ensuing total lock-down in India, while staying at home, bird watching was not on my my list, to go through the day. But, since the lock-down, my mornings have changed, as I hear bird songs, which gives a good start to the day. Suddenly, with the absence of human beings and rumble of vehicles, if one can turn a deaf ear to the barking of stay dogs and see the birds around you, it will bring you closer to nature. These birds around your homes or housing societies are becoming daring and unafraid of coming closer to us. If you look carefully and listen to their calls, you will see that they are all over the place. Even, as squirrels are boldly running around and giving final touches to their nests in secret corners; which are woven with spun strings, shredded textiles, pieces of cotton, moss, dry grass and fibrous strings.
The other day, a Sun Bird flew into my ground floor apartment as the door was open, then feeling rather confused, it made an U-turn and flew away. The other day, a friend told me, that Babblers are out-numbering Pigeons around her housing society. Crows, Pigeons, Swallows are also seen, as Babblers fly around in groups or have a leisurely sand-bath in a children’s play ground. And, when she is in the kitchen; making her first cup of coffee, a pair of Swallows fearlessly sits on the rim of her kitchen-window-sill or knock on the window panes with their beaks and make her smile. While, behind her apartment building, there is an unused green zone, which gives a pleasant view from her balcony, as a flock of Black Ibis roost there on a tree. From here, she watches the Ibis and many other birds flying amidst the foliage or nesting in the trees. The closeness between wild life and us humans; is increasing.
To continue the bird story, last week, a young friend living in a tenement; opened her front door and saw a sparrow. Excitedly, she called; ‘I just saw a sparrow,’ as she believes, sparrows are an endangered species. She quickly closed the door, so as not to frighten the bird, as it was perched on a branch of the mogra creeper; she had planted next to the main door. Since then, every morning, she leaves bowls of grains and water for the sparrow, so that it continues to visit her and eventually feels inspired to make a nest in the foliage of the fragrant mogra creeper.
I spend my mornings watching the aerial gliding of Sun-birds, along with Bulbuls, Robins, Mynahs, Babblers, Flower-peckers and if you are lucky, you could also see a stray Egret or Starling. Since the Lock-Down, in this still-silence around me, I can hear the distant cries of a Kingfisher, Coppersmith, Koel and Peafowl, as Kites and Falcons patrol the skies, while looking for a prey, down below on earth.
Every morning, I study a flowering bush, close to my bedroom window, as I disturb a few butterflies, flitting over the flower-beds. As, they disappear, I look for the nest, a pair of Tailor-Birds are making in one of the broad leafed plants, stitching the leaves into a cozy nest for their brood. And, to add colour to our surroundings, during the sleepy mid-afternoon hours, a flock of wild Indian Parrots arrive to perch on a young Neem tree, chattering away, maybe about the sudden silence zone, which has descended upon a world, predominantly inhabited by human beings. I try to decipher the hidden meaning of these bird songs, as we have a lot to learn from nature…because as they say ‘Nature is a great educator…’