Sunday, May 22, 2016

Visitors With Wings!

“Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain”… Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland is a Canadian novelist and artist. His fiction is complemented by recognized works in design and visual art arising from his early formal training. And though Douglas is a fiction writer in his above quote there is no fiction but a plain simple observation of an artist as simplicity is the base of any art & what better form can be there than birds when it’s an art! In a way every specie on the earth is creation of the artist whom we may call God, Christ or Allah yet birds are ahead in line when it comes to looks & beauty! Sure most of the bird watchers would agree with me! Off late bird watching is a recent buzz on social media & say fashion, many wont like the term fashion but that’s what I feel when I read or see the posts on FB or go through the images on whats-app, usually forward. Then there is a class which feels they are bird lovers as they also forward posts about keep a bowl on your terrace its summer types, though how many of them does that by themselves is a question no one answers. But always forwards, rarely I have come across a post saying he or she has done something for the birds at their homes or offices! Agreed there are many who take efforts at their end but numbers of such people is very less in compare to those who keeps on sharing or forwarding the posts about birds, especially in city area!

In rural or villages or even in towns, there are still lots of open spaces, farms & fields along with trees for the birds’ survival; it’s in cities like Pune the problem is grave. As buildings are replacing trees & green cover is getting reduced fast along with the food avenues available for the birds. On such background every single effort is welcome & in such vein we have tried something not so unique but different in the homes we build. We give a water bowl along with grain bowl & a bird nest in the attached terrace of every flat. All the flat holder has to do is keeping the bowls full with water & grains as well keep some dry grass in the nest. The nest is specially designed keeping in mind size of birds which can use it i.e. bulbul or sparrow & with small feeders attached to it. We advise flat holders to have some greenery around the nest as it makes the birds a bit comfortable is what my own experience. Many people initially have complained about the nests are not being used by the birds but the reason is there should be less human moment in the terrace, agreed you can’t stop using the terrace but try to make less noise & unnecessary use or poking continuously in the nest so the birds can have their privacy. Also as the building is new it takes time for the birds to get used to its surrounding as well it depends a lot on what kind of trees are existing around & has been planted newly. But over the period of time most flat holders have experienced moment of birds in their terrace & shared their experiences with me; I think that’s the best thing I could do for my clients as well for the birds!

To start with I have got a small attached terrace of hardly 60sft to my office room, where I tried the nests as well water bowl. I am fortunate to have my building adjoin to a small stream with a bit of vegetation around & my first floor terrace overlooks an open space where I have planted trees like mango, jack fruit & a huge rain tree shadows most of the surrounding. There were birds like bulbul, maina, sparrows & yes robin too around the building. When I planted flowering plants as well creepers around the railing of my terrace & then kept water /grain trees & hung two nests immediately birds started coming in, especially in summer noon. To my surprise it’s not just above mentioned birds but grey pigeons, scaled muniys, white eye & koyals also become regular visitors along with squirrels. The only disturbance is domestic pigeons & crows as they are big in size & aggressive making other birds shoo off. But soon I learned that there is a fixed pattern of my visitors with wings, as they knew what time pigeons & crows comes at water & avoids those timings. To watch these visitors of mine has become a relaxing hobby for me as it makes me sitting at water hole in forest of my own! It teaches me many things that because of scarcity of grass around birds like sparrows have difficulty in making the bed in the nest so I myself put some paper grass along with dry leafs & some cotton in the nest & it does helped. One more observation was if the nest is too low at height then the birds don’t occupy it as they feel unsafe, so it must be hang at some 6’ to 7’ height & better if it’s surrounded by creepers.  

Another observation is birds like robin or bulbul don’t eat grains much instead they make their own kills for food & it includes small insects, even lizard infants as well worms. And this is very important aspect as if the particular food is not around then these birds won’t be able to make your terrace as their home. And to make insects, worms & lizards survive one has to have open spaces, exposed soil cover & lots of vegetation around, an important aspect to remember for all the architects as well developers while we make our projects!

After all the setup was in place to my happiness both the nests were soon occupied by sparrows. Over the period I used watch sparrows modifying the nests interior with their limited resources & once the breeding period is over the nest used to be empty. Suddenly one day I say a robin male inspecting one of the nests the bigger one. I was curious as I used to think that birds especially smaller birds doesn’t encroach on other birds’ nests, also they don’t use once occupied nests by other birds. Then the female robin came & that day both of them keep visiting the nest many times. Later slowly they added some real grass as well leafs in the nest & then in next few days the robin couple took possession of the nest totally. As I guessed female robin was pregnant & soon she seldom used to leave the nest & the male all day long keeps collection food & drop it at the mouth of the nest & I could see female eating from the parceled food. Then it become my best time pass to listen various sounds the robin couple used to communicate with each other & guess their next move. Soon the robin female laid eggs which again I guessed as she started moving out at least for a while. Once the chicks are out of the eggs, the robin couple become very busy, ferrying to & fro & collecting more food which surely is a problem in city. They didn’t touched the grain bowl even once & I could see from the type of prey base right from small lizards to cockroaches to worms to few very uncommon insects which I didn’t even knew exists around!

The pattern of their food carrying was also very peculiar, first the male or female whoever is carrying the food used to sit on railing of terrace & then from there after checking the surrounding used to flew & sit on my window grill & from there go to the nest! I think its forest habits as not to lead any predators directly to the nest where chick are there & it was a fun to watch them doing so. Then whenever any crow or pigeon visits the water bowl the robin couple used to call very loudly & shoo away crow or pigeon with their full force. One morning I hear robin couples calling very strong & continuous so curiously I went to see what has happened; I saw one of the chick fall down in a planter below the nest & was calling from there & both robins were helplessly jumping around. I asked my peon to lift the chic wrapped in towel & keep it again in nest; fortunately the chick wasn’t injured. In my childhood I have believed that if you touch a bird chick then other birds won’t take him back in flock or nest. I saw my myth vanishing as the robin couple happily accepted the chick back in nest & immediately started feeding it! Now the chicks have grown up & I can see that in some days they will be on their own!

About the entire episode one may laugh at as what’s big deal in it & have I don’t got any important work to do than to watch a robin couple going through their routine! But friends its such small things happening around which makes life more interesting as watching the robins I learned so many things about birds behavior! As well I am happy that in the city where on one side even sighting of sparrows is getting rare I am lucky to witness lifecycle of a bird like robin. I could give them space to grow & more than that privacy too; that’s what makes my buildings complete! I feel success as a developer is not the concrete walls we build, human families occupying those walls & the money we make by constructing our buildings but if we can build an environment where every specie, like the robin has its space & all of them grow together, that is what I call real success of being a developer! 

In our fast moving life we have forgotten the simplicity which Douglas has mentioned in the quote. We have learned to fly high & fast but have lost the joy of flying & look around the sky& the greens. All we know is just to fly higher & faster but in the process we left the charm of flying on ground itself, then what’s difference between the airplane which is just a machine & us, the so called humans! It’s only when we create & conserve spaces for robins around then that realization of what we have lost comes back & then we start actually living our life! As being able to make out few minutes to watch a robin feed its chic, you won’t understand the pleasure unless you do it by yourself!  

All I will say to conclude is, thanks a lot robins, you have made my life a shade more wonderful by being my guest!

Have clicked various moments of robin episode & you can watch them at link below…

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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  1. Very interesting blog. I am staying in NCL colony Pashan and got several opportunities to watch different birds and their activities. My son is at Huntsville, USA. In 2014 I stayed there for 40 days. In those 40 days I observed a complete life cycle of bird family. In mid April a pair of birds built a nest in the balcony. (Unfortunately I do not know the name of this bird species). It was made of mud, grass etc. At the end of April the female laid her eggs. She was incubating these eggs while the male made frequent visits to this nest to feed her. In first week of May the baby birds came out of the eggs and started chirping continuously, which disturbed the atmosphere but I enjoyed to watch their growth everyday. In the last week of May the babies were learning to fly and in a week's time, they were independent and flew away. The nest was empty as the parents also left the nest. Now it was my time also to come back to India. That time my son might be undergoing "empty nest syndrome"

    1. wonderful experience; yes its a fun to watch them! Thanks for ur sharing!


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