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An account of backyard birding during lockdown

Image courtesy: ©Ranjani Subramanian

Taking inspiration from the world of cinema and entertainment has always been the case for a movie buff like me. So while watching a series called “Tales from the Loop” on Amazon Prime, one of the characters explained “They are a window into a world that’s right next to ours. The way they look, their unique calls. They are perfect”. The character was referring to birds and this is when we realized that we had been shutting out that window and complaining about a world filled with darkness, speaking metaphorically.

Spring chronicles: The Crow

Everyday a crow-couple worked tirelessly to build a nest outside our bedroom window. I had only read about the intelligence of this species until now, the kind of scrap and material it brings from around and the steps it takes to make its nest is like an engineering marvel. I took pictures at various stages from building the nest, laying the eggs to the hatching. I loved capturing each moment, as it involved a lot of guise and patience to avoid disturbing the crow and its young ones. I did realize that the crow was just like me, making sure it only went out for food and essentials and made sure the loved ones stayed home.

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Summer playground for the tiny-tots: Sparrow

They are so small that they can get through the tiniest gaps in windows. Nothing is more inviting to these sparrows than a small tray of water or a few grains spilt around and that is what we did to serve two purposes viz. feeding them as well as making them pose for a picture. It is almost meditative to watch these cute sparrows play in water and carefully peck on grains and greens. This also neutralized the guilt of being unable to do anything significant for people who are in need during these times.

The Showstopper: The Golden Oriole

Image courtesy: ©Ranjani Subramanian

This bird looks immensely beautiful with a combination of colours that look bright and unmistakable. The yellow and black drew my attention and I never knew until later that this bird visited our neighbourhood a lot around spring. Somehow when I shot a picture of this bright beauty, I felt a sense of optimism that a bright and sunny day was just around the corner.

Music to my ears: The Coppersmith Barbet

Image courtesy: ©Ranjani Subramanian

In this world of noise and relentless commotions, it is very difficult to spot the unique calls of birds. Now with almost no human sounds we realize that the sounds of nature are nothing short of music to the ears. This little green bird is a kaleidoscope of colours with bright patches of red and yellow on its head. Owing to its tiny size it can go unnoticed. However, the recurring calls of tuk-tuk resembling the sound of a coppersmith’s hammer beating the metal is your best chance to spot this one.

The cattle egret
The cattle egret
Image courtesy: ©Ranjani Subramanian

A pale white bird with a streak of gold is ensconced on the top of a tree outside my window this is the cattle egret, somewhere below through a small hole in the trunk of this tree peeps a green head that is a parrot. There are stories of family bonds and friendships much more intimate and intricate within the avian world if we pause and observe.

A parrot
A parrot
Image courtesy: ©Ranjani Subramanian

Unshakable patience, utmost steadiness, a mind to look at the bright side and a low threshold for satisfaction are what this lockdown entails and the seed for all this was sowed when I started understanding bird-watching and bird photography right from my window.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.