Amidst all the usual news, that I mostly found rather grueling, in today’s newspaper, one that caught my eye was about the arrival of the Painted Storks in our city Zoo.
The Painted storks, so named because of their vibrant pink tertial feathers and monochrome markings, are migratory birds that travel from the cooler Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh to Delhi during early autumn. A number of other migratory species like the Teal, Coot and the Dabchick are expected to reach Delhi from Siberia, China and parts of South-eastern Asia by mid September.
The Painted Storks typically breed during December and are expected to stay on till February.
Torrential rains of the last few days have considerably plummeted the mercury, encouraging the storks to take up residence at our Zoo a little earlier than usual.
They are being gregariously welcomed and generous efforts are on to make them comfortable at the Zoological Gardens. The ponds are getting filled up with generous portions of stork-dinner-a variety of local fish. One interesting fact about these birds is that they refuse to build nests from the twigs of trees that they stay in. The Zoo officials are graciously catering to their whim and getting them twigs from other nearby trees!!
This little news item made me think how amazing the ways of nature are.
This GIFT of LIFE – that’s one gift that makes our earth unique.
How extraordinarily different every life form is and yet, is gelled together somehow…
A few months back, I was lucky enough to be able to document such an event. A complete cycle of life…
I consider it a gift from nature.
You often see these birds, the common domestic pigeon scattered all over the cityscape.
Sadly, these very peaceful birds are considered nothing less than a form of city pest.
One day, sometime last June, I found a pair of them busily gathering twigs on the windowsill of one of our bathrooms. Now, all our doors and windows are in pairs. A net-structure that opens inside (and for most parts remains shut to keep out mosquitoes and other insects) and one in glass or wood that opens outside (that mostly remains open). Before I could get myself to brush off the twigs, the industrious little pair had already set up a beautiful nest on the shelf, in between the two sets of windows.
They looked so proud that I just didn’t have the heart to shoo them away. I’m glad I didn’t because in the ensuing days, I witnessed one of the most beautiful events in nature …the Gift of life on earth.
It was a practical lesson in natural history for me! I watched, fascinated, as I saw both Mr. & Mrs. Pigeon take turns to incubate their precious pair of eggs, just like the books said. Once they hatched at around the 18th day, they fed their little babies pigeon milk and regurgitated grains. I would often put out some rice and cereals which promptly disappeared.
( You can identify Papa Pigeon by his darker neck band)
In just 35 days, my perfect little pair of eggs had turned into this perfect little pair of pigeons!
They had now begun to accept food from me, rice grains. They were all ready to fly away. But for days, I watched them hesitate to move away from the safety of the nest. I began wondering if I was actually disturbing the natural order of things. Was I just reinforcing their fear, providing them with ready food and delaying their flight?
Or may be it was not my fault at all. They were scared because the ground looked so far away from that height.
What a thought! Acrophobic birds!
One of them was braver. It’d step out right till the very edge and spread out its wings as if to fly. But for over four days, that was all the progress it’d made.
And then, with utmost determination, I stopped feeding them. The mother pigeon had long gone away and no longer came back to feed them. My heart broke and I felt I was starving them to death. But I stuck to my resolve (with cruel encouragement from my husband!)
And then, one day when I was back from work, they were both gone! Just like that. They disappeared.
I ran down and checked with the gardener and the caretaker. No, they hadn’t come across any dead birds. Nor had they seen Sheru, our resident colony dog feast on one since morning!
So finally, my little pair of eggs did spread out their wings!
P.S: Since the last couple of days, a pair of pigeons has been cooing and cuddling on the very same window sill. Were they my pair? In all probability they were. The domestic pigeon can be trained to be very successful messengers – homing pigeons.
This time though, I have begun to regularly open and shut the outer window, sending out a clear message that this particular surface isn’t a safe place for a nest. The sill is now clean, after a lot of effort and I don’t think I’m ready to ‘let it out’ again!
I’m glad to link ‘A GIFT of LIFE- Pigeon Diaries’ to Mrs. Nesbitt’s ABC WEDNESDAY:G. There are ‘G’s gallore at this Great meme. Do gallop over if you don’t want to miss any…