I get up in the morning at the crack of dawn and am greeted by the whistles, songs, greetings and other sounds of myriad birds of Delhi. My housing society resembles a mini menagerie in the mornings.
Yes, I think I live a blessed existence. Otherwise, how many people in the metros around the world live among some of the most beautiful birds of Delhi. Our lifestyles have largely made our cities boring places to live in, they have turned into concrete jungles.
I don’t think that New Yorkers or Londoners have sparrows, mynahs, cuckoos, doves, bulbuls and owls in their midst. But I must admit that since I have not been to these cities, therefore, I might be incorrect in this regard.
When I get up at the crack of dawn, which is 5.15 am, the first thing that I hear in my park is a cuckoo seated on a tree branch. Have you seen or heard this bird? Well, I have. It is black in color, slender in shape and sings in a very sweet voice. Hearing it, you will feel that you have taken lots of sugar in your tea or milk.
The Bird of Peace
Invariably, the cuckoo is surrounded by a couple of doves on the same branch. While the cuckoo sings, the doves keep silent. Wonder why? I think they are probably enjoying their morning singing session.
But have you heard a dove sing? I heard this gentle bird sing only a few days back. Its voice is very fragile and the only time you can hear a dove speak is when it s courting its mate.
The dove is the gentlest creature you will ever meet. When confronted with danger, this bird simply closes its eyes!Perhaps this why the gentle dove is the bird of peace because all peaceniks tend to avoid unpleasant situations.
Never at peace
Sometimes, a few babblers also visit my housing society. These birds are always in a quarreling mode. Their voices are irritating no end. Slate-colored, the babbler has yellow claws and looks as if it has just emerged from a mud bath. I just don’t know where do these quarrelsome birds get their energies from. Do you know that?
My personal favorites are the sparrows but these birds have kind of vanished from my neighborhood. I hear them occasionally but never see them. Do you have sparrows around you? If you do, then you are a blessed person indeed.
My friend, Rajneesh, tells me that he is tired of the peacocks in the early hours of the mornings.
I asked him how?
Well, he replied, that these gorgeous birds have a habit of calling each other in the mornings. These peacocks live right across his window and their sounds wake him up at 4 o’clock. I wish I had these alarms near me also.
Several years back when I was living in Jaipur, we had peacocks visit us in the afternoons. There was a pomegranate tree and in its shade, these gorgeous birds rested. Alas, In Delhi, we do not have do not have sufficient forested lands where the peacocks can roam and enjoy their lives.
A bird that delights me always is the Bulbul. It is just 4 inches in length and has black triangular crest. There is a reddish appendage under its tail and that is how you can identify this sprightly bird.
The yellow beaked ones
And then there are the ubiquitous mynahs which are becoming as numerous as the pigeons in Delhi.
Mynahs, like babblers, are noisy too and sure, these birds of Delhi have quickly adjusted themselves to the urban life. You can see these yellow-beaked ruffians on your window ledges, near your kitchen areas and also near the toll plazas. Mynahs, it seems, cannot do without our food leftovers. A few years ago, when I used to drive to work in Gurugram, I used to see these rascals chasing buses and cars at the toll gates, hoping that someone will offer them a few crumbs of bread or snack.
I think I have also spotted a kingfisher in my campus. Once, just once. Oh, what a marvelous sight it was.
And what else?
These secretive creatures come out in the wintery nights and announce their presence with their plaintive cries. Indians consider owls as birds of bad omen but I find them really cute. In the Indian tradition, owls are also considered as carriers of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Some people hunt this bird down for its claws which fetch good money in the black market.
If you are a bird lover then consider going to these places to catch them with your camera.
- Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary
- Asola Bhatti Mines
- Sanjay Gandhi Park, near Qutub Minar
- Okhla Bird Sanctuary