|Indian House Sparrow|
Ever since I moved to my new residence, the first sounds that I hear when I wake up in the morning are excited chirping of the ghor-sirika (house sparrows). In our apartment building, the sparrows rule. The apartment my sister and myself moved into was vacant for sometime, and it became the playhouse cum toilet of the house sparrows.Their favourite hangout trees are the tejpaat (bay leaves) and jetuka (henna), whose branches almost touch the railings of our kitchen balcony. It was my sister who indulged them, not me. In the mornings, she fed them rice grains, cooked rice and even bhujiya (snacks). I tease her saying that she will make the bunch of sparrows obese.
Feeding birds has been a part of life for our family, especially my father. Back home (in upper Assam), Deta (my father) have built a food tray with a shed, complete with a bowl of water. There is a variety of contenders for the food served there. Of course, like anywhere in India, crows are a menace. But in our home, it is the xalika (common mynahs) who rule. With Deta’s daily supply of rice, roti and biscuits, they have literally become plump and lazy. They don’t look for food anymore, that too in a place where their natural food is abundant. A couple of daauk (water hens) are another inhabitants of our household. They roam around the drains from the kitchen basin almost all day long. They are very quick runners.
|White Breasted Water Hen|
A pair of kopou (spotted turtle dove bird) also features in our home compound. Unfortunately one of them was hunted down by a predator, and now only the remaining one roams around. It is really very heart wrenching to watch the lonely lovely dove.
Apart from the birds, the naughtiest house members are the kerketua (grey squirrels). They have their nests up in the jack-fruit trees, feed on any fruit and vegetable available in the house, plus the supplies from my father. They seem to have the most fun too. You can catch them running and chasing one another around, all day long.
|Spotted Turtle Dove
I almost forgot to mention their bathing extravaganza. All the birds including a family of owls (yes, owls!) enjoy a morning or an evening bath (depending on their mood and convenience), in the mini pond created by Deta with an old ceramic basin, originally meant for water lilies.
Back in my abode in the semi metropolis, I feel lucky to at least have the sparrows to feed. My sister recently relocated to Delhi for a job opportunity. And the responsibility of feeding these cute things fell on me. By the time I am awake, they are already inside the living room (their playroom) through the ventilators. A week back, they even tried to build a nest inside the panel cover of the curtains. As evidence, I found twigs and feathers near the windows, sparrow shit on the curtains and also one of them inside when I reached home one evening from work.
So the first job in the morning is to feed these all time hungry sparrows. These days I am feeding them bhujiya (snacks) and sweets. Four crows and a common mynah are also tough contenders of my daily treat. I let the mynah feed but chase away the crows. The sparrows feed and then try to break away pieces of the broom in the balcony for their nest. Absolute ‘khai paat phola‘s (Assamese idiom meaning one who make holes in the very plate he/she eats in). So broom is now inside. However, these birds are my company in the house and connects me to the nature in this fast evolving concrete jungle. Watching and feeding my avian friends in the morning definitely chirps up my day, apart from getting me late for wok.
An alarming article I came across today while searching pictures: