When you are travelling by road in an unknown city, you can distinctly feel the difference as soon as you enter its cantonment. You will suddenly encounter broad and neat roads lined with huge trees. It’s a different world altogether with greenery everywhere. This abundant greenery is a feast to the eyes. It becomes even more pleasant because of the variety of birds we get to see here.
As a child I when I used to visit the zoo I loved watching the beautiful and colourful peacocks, parrots, parakeets and other birds. But, there’s no need to go anywhere if you are married to a fauji. Thanks to the almost forest like scene we keep seeing innumerable parrots and peacocks in our garden trees and on the roof tops of our neighbours.[ they see the same on ours] Many other birds also join in and our mornings and evenings are echoing with their pleasant chirpings. When my daughter was five years old we were posted at Firozpur in Punjab and she used to wake up at around 4.30 saying ‘mummy get up, all the birds are up and talking’! 🙂
A few years back we were posted at Itarsi in Madhya Pradesh and I had the opportunity to study the sparrows which are said to be vanishing now a days. We were living on the first floor and our bedroom windows had mesh doors on the inside and glass doors on the outside., a regular feature in MES [ mIlitary engineering services ] built houses. One set of windows was facing the west due to which, there used to be too much of sun light. So, we usually kept it closed with a slight opening to let the cable and telephone wires in. It was a very small opening.
Once I was sitting on the bed watchng T V. Suddenly I heard very loud chirping as though it was coming from inside the house. I got up and looked behind the curtains and saw that two sparrows had come into the window opening and were excitdly moving inside that little space between the mesh and glass doors of the window. They were going on making sounds as though they were in a serious conversation. They would talk and then fly up and down in that small place and talk again. I kept watching them without disturbing them. After a few minutes they both flew out and I returned to my T V.and forgot all about it.
To my surprise, the two birds were back the next day and they had dried grass and small sticks in their beaks. That’s when I understood that their first visit was a house hunting mission and they were inspecting our little window house, discussing the ‘pros and cons’ in their own language.[ whatever it was] Don’t we all do the same when we go looking for a house? I think they liked what they saw and that’s why decided to move in without wasting any time. I think they liked the house [?] mainly because the entry was very narrow and no bird bigger than these sparrows could get into it. Safety is everybody’s biggest concern in this evil world. Isn’t it?
So, after that day it became my most favourite hobby to watch them come and go every now and then, with a single house building material in their beaks and working endlessly to arrange them neatly to make a lovely nest. They topped up the nest with fresh green leaves to make it soft and cushiony [ I think ]. What creativity really! You’ll understand how much of hard work goes ino building a nest, only when you see it being done from the first day. No words will match their efforts, you’ll just be wonderstruck, that’s it.
Once the nest was ready, the female sparrow [ I understood much later which one was a female, thanks to the extra black in her feathers] started spending more time in the nest than her counterpart. Very soon I saw small little eggs in the nest. The female sparrow used to go out for a brief while and the rest of the day she used to spend in safeguarding and hatching the eggs. Her partner used to sit on the window sill and keep a watch.
One fine day there were tiny looking beauties in the nest making a ‘cheev cheev’ sound all the time. Once the babies were out, Ma and Pa sparrows would go out by turn and get some food for them. The babies would eagerly open their mouths and the food went directly from mouth to mouth. When one parent used to feed the children the other would sit and watch them, I’m sure with his/her heart swelling with pride :). The children who were generally quiet when the parents were out, would start making a lot of noise when they returned home.
Before I realised, the babies grew bigger and started venturing out little by little, trying to sit on the window sill. They would sit and watch things as though they were under training on some mission. After doing this for sometime, seeing so many birds flying around happily, they must have got courageous and inspired. So they decided to take the ‘plunge’ and flew away. When the parents retuned home to an empty nest they did make some anxious sounds and looked here and there, all in vain. They also flew out never to come back. After waiting for a few days to see if they come back, I got the nest removed and the place cleaned.
I really missed the birds and their family. But again after a few weeks another pair of sparrows came, did the same antics and settled there. It looked like a repeat play and also as if I had rented out my ‘window house’ to the sparrow fraternity. With the second family vacating the house it was time again to put back the ‘To Let’ board [removing the old nest, I mean] to let another family prosper. 🙂
PS: Gubbi is a kannada word for Sparrow.