I have been thinking from many days to post this learning of my life, but just couldn’t distract myself from Facebook. It’s very addictive and sometimes very annoying.
As I have mentioned before, my mom maintains a pretty big garden. There are lots of trees too around her house unlike the other developed areas in Bangalore. The Garden has been my inspiration for my hobby photography. I have clicked a lot of flowers, leaves, insects and birds in and around her garden. Of late the garden has become a little crowded with the plants growing into big bushes. It is also a welcome scene to set up new families for birds and small animals. The squirrels have their own colonies in the beetle leaves climbers, which has over grown up to the roof. [Since Beetle leaves are considered sacred, mom doesn’t want to trim it unless she’s gonna use them] You can see the squirrels’ jumping around the railings, climbers and some telephone wires around the house. It’s a huge colony there. Butterflies are regular visitors. There are a lot of other colorful insects that pop out from behind the leaves sometimes. Snakes too show up, but rarely. Owls, Parrots and Nightingales are always around.
However, today I’m writing about a particular species of Birds. “The Red Whiskered Bulbul”. They are small birds mostly found in southern part of Asia. It’s only about 20cms long. Its call is distinctive and I find it very attractive. I also read on Wikipedia, that they have life span of 20 years, Wow! So this bird couple is fond our garden and built nests many times in different trees here. Each time, they build a nest, I’m the one informed first. And I’m ready with my camera. I being one of the reasons [as I interrupted their privacy while shooting and other bigger birds too are culprits] they hadn’t raised a family in the nests they built. They always changed places. This would make my dad and my sister a little apprehensive.
However, due to various reasons this time [the good ones actually] I couldn’t be there to shoot it while it was building a nest in a bushy corner of my mom’s garden. My dad would tell stories about how the couple built their nest with twigs, dry leaves and pulled at threads of a saree strip my mom used to tie a bunch of hibiscus plant. It’s a cup shaped nest and looks so small left me wondering how the bird can fit in. I was more excited about the whole event than my daughter. I missed being there. One morning my dad calls up to tell my daughter that he found 3 eggs in the nest, while plucking flowers for pooja. I so wanted to be there. He said they were pale pink in color with spots on them. I would eagerly inquire about the birds and eggs everyday. I was told that one of the birds would sit in the nest incubating the eggs. A week later my sister called up to say there were chicks already. I didn’t waste any time. I was there on a Saturday afternoon with the batteries charged to their fullest. However everybody at home including my lil daughter was worried that I would shoo off the birds this time too. But I made sure the parents weren’t around when I clicked. After several attempts at avoiding the parents and lot of shaky and cluttered photos, I managed to get a couple of good ones.
The parents were so caring, they both flew away together and comeback with little something every time they returned. One of the birds would stand guarding while the other would feed the birds.
The chicks too would raise their still developing red necks high when there was a movement around the nest hoping to grab a bite from its mother. Every few minutes the couple would return with something. It would range from small berries to caterpillars, winged insects. There were times when the Bulbuls attacked the butterflies around. We watched them nurse the chicks all through the day and I returned happy with a few beautiful clips.
A couple of days later my sister calls me with panic in her voice. She was almost crying when she told me that the chicks were attacked and eaten up by a bird called Greater Coucal and nest was broken in the dawn, while the parents were away. The Bulbul couple frantically searched all around the house trying to find their babies, while the chicks just seemed like a day’s meal to the Crow Pheasant. It must be such a heart breaking sight to see. I felt really bad for them.
All this while I was happy and feeling proud to have clicked such beautiful and intricate photo which is rare of sights, patting my back for an excellent job I did, now, made me feel ashamed and guilty for invading their privacy. The sorrow and apathy made sense of the whole scene, about life, its cycle of birth and death, the cruelty yet bare necessity. Though the babies weren’t ready to fight back, it was the survival of the fittest. No matter how much care and love you give your children under your wings they will be victims of the world’s cruelty. And all you can do is hope, hope that it’s not your children out there, who are being abused, molested, hurt or killed for someone’s sheer survival.