In harmony with nature
When the pandemic forced us indoors, I embarked on a new pastime - bird watching. My balcony overlooks an African Tulip tree that serves as a haven for a host of avian creatures and squirrels
When the pandemic forced us indoors, I embarked on a new pastime - bird watching. My balcony overlooks an African Tulip tree that serves as a haven for a host of avian creatures and squirrels. The 'tall green friend', reduced to a skeleton post the leaves shedding in summer, now sports a spectacular green and red canopy.
The kids play with the flower buds, squirting the water on to each other. Birds and bats gorge on the blooms and transform the street into a colourful carpet.
A pair of copper barbets have made the tree their abode. These exotic birds dwell in a cavity of the tree trunk and glide in and out of their hideout. The male bird can turn hostile and will not hesitate to swoop and attack any intruder who dares to approach the nest.
They feed on the nectar of flowers and make a distinctive sound, "kutrook-kutrook-kutrook". A pair of kites are busy raising their chicks in their nest on the upper reaches of the tree. The raptors work all day, tirelessly, going out in search of feed for their young. One bird always stays behind to guard the young, while the other ventures out seeking small prey. The field glasses that we bring out before sunset help us get a close look at the family.
Ravens, parakeets, koels, hummingbirds, wood pigeons, hawks, mynahs and bats, complete the list of avian visitors. The parakeets, boisterous as ever, create a racket at sundown before going home to roost. Dusk sees the bats launch a foray. They hang inverted from the tallest branches and resemble gymnasts doing handstands. Despite the profusion of fallen petals left behind by our avian visitors on the balcony, their presence always delights us.
The early morning calls of the koels and the ravens serve as a natural alarm, enabling us to rise and shine. The ravens love the flatbread that my significant other bakes and they keep alighting at intervals - beginning from 6 am - to pick them up from the ledge where we place them.
Hesitant at first to come close, they have now grown accustomed to us and welcome the feed we offer them. The bread has caught the squirrels fancy too, as they scurry in and out from the nearby trees. Most often, this leads to the ravens getting a run for their money.
A pair of stray cows and a pack of dogs are also the beneficiaries of our hospitality. The bovines trudge in at 11 am, while a bag of vegetable shavings and banana peels await them. They herald their arrival with loud cries of "moo-moo". After a contended meal, they guzzle water from the plastic tub placed near the gate, sometimes knocking it over with their heads.
A pack of five dogs led by their skipper, King, are the last of our animal friends who nudge us for food. The furry friends think that the street belongs to them and will not spare any canine intruder who barges into their area of control. They hang by our gate after the cows go home, waiting for their daily meal of rice and chicken.
The 'brownies' ever grateful for our act of kindness, keep a vigil on the house after dusk and have nicely fitted into the role of best friends. These daily rendezvous with our friends from the natural world make our day.