I live in Mumbai aka ‘concrete jungle’. But in the last year or so I have come to question this label. Yes, we are losing the precious little green cover that we have. But what is worse is that we aren’t taking the time out to enjoy what’s left of it.
No, you don’t need to wake up at 6am and head to Borivili National Park or Google the best month to see the migratory Flamingos in Sewri. These ideas stem from our need to think everything is supposed to be difficult and time consuming. All you need to do is hang a bird feeder outside your window or in your box grill or in the balcony if you are lucky enough to have that luxury.
I put up a feeder in January this year. I have to admit I was worried about crows and pigeons invading my window. So instead of rice I put bajra seeds successfully keeping at least the crows away. I initially put the feeder up to attract cute little sparrows. However I was given a lovely surprise on day one itself by a beautiful Rose-Ringed Parrot. Keep a feeder for a few days and you will know many more such names!
Everyday I had a battallion of parrots visit the feeder at 6am, 11am and 5 pm. The numbers only increased. Slowly the sparrows also started visiting the feeder. The parrots would sit on the grill and eat from the feeder, while the parrots enjoyed their meal from my pot of Masunda below. If your building or the buildings around yours have fruit trees of any kind – badam, mango – you will definitely attract parrots. Warning: they are a noisy bunch! Also the pigeons are no match. I have seen many get their butts pecked off by these gorgeous red beaks.
Another reason to keep a feeder is that it slowly opens up your sight and you start noticing all the other birds that reside in our city. Most of us have seen the Kites circling the skies. Umm, not the kind we let loose on Sankranti, but the huge birds that you would probably spot if you looked up during the day. I was lucky to see a couple suddenly frequent the coconut tree in front of my window. I have lived in this house for six years and this was the first time I’ve seen these birds so close. So much so I can now identify sounds made by parrots and kites. I can also spot a Brahmini Kite which has a white head and torso with brown wings setting it apart from the Common Bombay Kite seen in this image on the left.
I recently moved homes and though I’m yet to put out a bird feeder, I’ve happily noticed few more winged neighbours. Being close to the beach, the Heron is quite a common sight. In fact they seem to roost in the trees around my building. I’ve spotted a nest with a baby heron too. Then I have a couple of White-Throated Fantails who have a distinctive whistle. They spread their tails out like tiny peacocks and hop about doing a little dance. Golden Orioles also frequent the trees around our home. In fact a bright yellow one once took my dad completely by surprise and I have spotted 3 other paler ones since then. The Mynah with it’s beautiful yellow eyeliner is one that I have spotted very often now. In my previous home, a mynah flew into my living room and happily hopped along the inner ledge of my window and flying back out in it’s own sweet time.
Even holiday trips out of town now involve spotting birds, learning their names and other features. On my last trip to Goa in October, I saw the White Bellied Fishing Eagle, Common Rose Butterfly and a gorgeous green Tarantula wrapped in a leaf with it’s 50 odd babies. These are things I would have been blind to had I not placed the bird feeder in my window. They cost Rs 250 and can be ordered on the phone – +919890087988. Gift your kids, nieces, nephews or yourselves this feeder this Christmas. I’m sure each time you see a new feathered friend, you will be glad you made that call.