lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

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Location: Kolkata, India

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Parroting

Sometimes, a picture is really worth a thousand words. Neha's parrot took me back to my childhood.

There used to be an unused chimney on the upper floor of our neighbour's house. When I was young it used to be a particular pleasure to observe the antics of a family of parrots that took up residence in the vents of that chimney, their comings and goings, the raucous screeches of alarm as our cats prowled around, the fledglings learning to fly…

As a child, I lived in a house with a large compound with greenery, and had the good fortune of observing a lot of birds. Apart from the ubiquitous crows and sparrows, parrots, sunbirds, weavers, coppersmiths, bulbuls and more abounded in the garden and the patch of wilderness in the empty lot next door. But pigeons I saw only around the Thousand Lights area.

In Delhi, I encountered pigeons more commonly. And peacocks. Walking to the K Block market in Hauz Khas, and coming face to face with a peacock strutting down the lane is not something one can forget, ever.

In Calcutta I notice that sparrows are rarer, crows and pigeons are the most common birds one sees, other than the kites that wheel about in the sky. There are bulbuls and mynahs; once in a while I spot the cuckoos in the trees that surround the Lake. But I haven't seen a tailorbird, or a coppersmith, though I do hear woodpeckers occasionally.

Some years ago, there was a huge project to improve the rainwater drainage facility in our area. This meant they dug up Southern Avenue to lay pipes. The noise and the pollution of machines belching smoke drove the parrots that used to nest on the trees along Southern Avenue to our area. It is only a short distance, but this made for noisy readjustment in the bird population of the area.

Parrots are gregarious, and noisy. The clamour they set up as they left nests at dawn and returned at dusk was something unheard in our area until then. Used as we were to the dawn chorus of a thousand birds, parrots still added an element of loud good cheer.

I don't know how disrupted the balance of various bird species was by the invasion of the parrots. The roadwork is done, in as much as any undertaking by KMC is ever completed, but the parrots haven't returned to Southern Avenue.

They live here now, and the flash of brilliant green as they swarm out in the mornings is a welcome brightness. Even the harsh cries cheer. Is it just me, or are there fewer birds around in cities these days?

Cheers!

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

tota myna ki kahaani puraani hogayii

9:10 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

@Anon- What is your grouse?

I think birds are dwindling in cities, Lali. I don't see or hear as many varieties I used to. Parrots are a nuisance if you have an orchard though.

9:51 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Anon- Hey that is a nice song. But get a name. I don't like anon comments. The story is eternal, by the way.

Ash- Why 'rail' at anons, hmm? Leave them be, I say. We can't always be 'lark'ing, no? Lemme think up more puns about birds.

So you own an orchard? Mangoes? Guavas? Oranges?

10:59 pm  
Blogger dipali said...

Different cities, different birds.
Have sighted golden orioles in Alipore! And paddy birds have joined the egrets in the Tollygunge club precints.

Many years ago, the only crows we ever saw in Thailand were in the aviary at the zoo.

11:42 pm  
Blogger Shirsha said...

Yeah, u r so right, the sparrows took flight, the pigeons stopped crapping about, a few mynahs rarely peck at dustbins and v few crows fall down dead after getting electrocuted on the cables... on the whole city is v v bird-free _

2:00 pm  
Blogger netizen said...

Saw one the other day.
Crushed and splattered on the road.
Couldn't make out the 'make'.
Haven't heard a parrot in a long time. Come to think of it, haven't seen one dunno..how long ago was that.
You need to go to the zoo to watch them.
Perhaps that is the best place for them.
They are better off without us.
Don't you see.
Let 'em be.

5:03 pm  
Blogger Shirsha said...

hey i just saw a blue-grey pigeon that had a few stray green lines on its wings... it was dumbly strutting across the terrace of a neighbouring house!

11:47 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Dipali- I agree, different cities, different birds. Though Delhi is forever a favourite for having sighted peacocks and a hoopoe.

Shirsha- I am afraid it does seem cities are getting bird-free. It's nice to recognise particular birds by markings, isn't it?

Netizen- Sigh. I feel awful every time I see a crow electrocuted or a cat or dog mangled by cars. We are such an uncaring species, aren't we? I hope you hear a parrot soon.

10:10 pm  

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