>> Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The morning sky was moody. Some days it appeared bright and colorful. On other days, gloomy and cloudy. From where I used to sit in the morning, I could see the sky till the end of Agasthya hills. When we were looking around to buy a house, I had chosen this place because of the view.
It was when I was enjoying the morning breeze that I casually looked up at the ceiling lamp. I don’t know why we had bought it, but it looks like one of those lamps you would see in a church. And then I saw the tail of a bird from the top of the lamp. It was not moving. I called my wife and started scolding her about how careless they were, in having not seen the dead bird lying on top of the lamp.
My wife had a hearty laugh.
She said “It is not dead. That is the nest of the bird and it is hatching the eggs”.
How could she be so sure?
“Oh, the bird was here few months back, and flew away with its children”.
Ah, so, that was it. It is a permanent residence of the bird! I was not surprised. We have three bed rooms in the house. My son uses one. The other one, supposed to be our bedroom, was full of clothes, and there was no place left on the bed. My wife was in the process of sorting them out. I had thought of the spare room, and then she told me of the cat which had delivered few days back under the bed. I was not supposed to disturb the cat, and so, I had to sleep on the floor ,on a mat. That was fine too, for a change. Though I put up an effort to fight against her love for animals, which is a bit on the higher side, I secretly admire her kindness. But hadn’t I placed some restrictions, she would fill the house with stray dogs and cats.
I was curious. I brought a chair and was trying to get a glimpse. One click, and the bird flew away. It is called “ Thoppi kkili” in our language, because it has something like a cap on its head. From then on, I used to watch its coming and going. At night time, it would come and settle down on the nest and won’t move till morning.
When I came back from my trip to my hometown, I saw the bird coming home with with a large caterpillar bulging in its bill. Once it landed on the lamp, I saw two tiny sets of beaks opening wide for the feed. They had started moving around in the nest and were growing fast. From daylight to dusk, seldom does more than two minutes elapse between feedings. One day morning, I noticed that one of the babies had fallen down, in to the dome of the lamp and was fluttering its wings. The mama bird flew in from nowhere, and was desperately looking for the missing one and finally found it. She flew frantically around the lamp and soon realized she was incapable of rescuing the baby bird. When she had gone away, I tried to reach the baby bird inside the dome, and the one sitting on top flew away !. It landed on the floor of the car porch. Within seconds, the mama bird appeared and was furious at me and trying to attack me. The mama took her baby to a safe place on to one of the plants in the pot. I managed to get the other baby out of the dome and placed it safely on the nest.
I saw the father bird when I was looking for the kids. He was sitting silently at a distance on a tree top, keeping watch over the mother and kids. My wife told me he always sits outside, on the roof top or on an adjacent tree top, to watch over the mother and kids and to warn if enemies are around. The mother bird chirps all the while, and is musical. Although the male and female birds look alike, after watching them a while, I could tell them apart by their attitude. When feeding the young, the female goes straight to the nest. A few seconds before she arrives, the babies inside rev up the volume of their chattering. That tips me off to look up from my chair in time to see the mother land at the top of the lamp and disappear inside the nest. As they grew, the nestlings made more and more noise. They started poking their white flanged bills out of the nest, opening them wide to receive whatever prey their mother would bring.
I saw them all on another day in our neighboring compound. On the wire fence by my neighbor's yard, teetered the two baby birds, their parents on either side. That house was safer, it was not occupied.
I don’t know how to name it. We say only human have intelligence. If it is so, I think love is beyond intelligence. With such tiny brains, they have marvelous instincts. The bird couple has been always together from the time my wife had seen them. At least, they have raised two sets of kids. I don’t know if they argue and fight, the way we do. About where to go for lunch and dinner, and where to make the home and settle down. But I have seen their mutual commitment. Ornithologists believe that they have the same habits of love ,cheating and divorce,as we do.They have jealousy, and there are home wrecker females among them too.
Did they learn it from bird watchers?
Did they learn it from bird watchers?