Sunday, October 14, 2012

Story of Bulbuls

That's the Mother Bulbul. Ever since she built the nest she used to occupy my bike very often. Didn't fly even when I was just a foot away. Instead, perhaps frightened by my presence, she would increase the intensity of her calls.

That's the parking lot adjacent to ours. The guy is looking in the direction of the nest on top.

Three babies in the nest. Only two can be seen clearly.

That's the Mother Bulbul on one of her regular feeding occasions. The pics were taken in the morning.

In the last few days when I came back from Mississippi in the evening and when I found the tube-light on, I would switch it off. The passers-by would watch curiously why I did that. It is then that most of them started noticing the nest actually. That act of mine drew attention to the Bulbul family.

On Friday morning, to send a picture of the Bulbuls to participate in a contest on one of the websites dedicated to saving birds, I started clicking pictures and drew yet more attention to these little birds.

And then the intelligent move took place. That afternoon, after I took pics in the morning, a well-wisher ordered the nest to be moved into a bird-feeder hanging clay-pot. So it was done and the hanging-pot with the 3 babies was hung right in the way of the passers-by near the parking lot.

The Parent Bulbuls were furious. Against relatively gigantic intelligent beings they could only do so much though. I sensed trouble.

By evening the hanging pot was found in one corner. Two babies which could barely manage to fly, flew out in the open under the parked cars. One little baby relegated in the pot.

Someone showed me pics of Bulbul babies in the hands of the kids playing around. I couldn't help but feel that we were toying with the Bulbuls. And with the fancy toys - the ready-to-be-flaunted-and-brandished smartphones - we would do nothing better but this. 

With the help of some kids in the building and a couple of concerned ladies, I gathered the two flying babies in a basket. I had lost hope for the third one. But luckily found the third baby sitting quietly in the pot in utter darkness.

The 3 siblings spent the night in that basket. 

Next day, Saturday (that is yesterday), we kept the basket on the car shown in one of the pics above. To our delight, the Parent Bulbuls came back in the morning and found the babies. The Bulbul Mother got into action and in a few minutes brought some food to feed. 

We tried tying the basket high up in place of the nest. The two barely-flying babies panicked and flew out in the open again. The Parent Bulbuls were again furious and intensified their calls. They chased the flying babies. One of babies found refuge in a tyre-rim cavity and got trapped. And Mother Bulbul got food to feed it even there! The baby was trying to come out and was calling as best it could. We spotted it again and pulled it out.

Now we had two babies - one who could fly a bit and the other who was still in the basket - with us. The one other baby which flew out was untraceable at that moment.

We had already removed the nest. So, we had compromised the safety of the babies. They could become prey to crows (or cats or dogs) which are always in the vicinity of the building.

I couldn't dare to see the baby which stayed in the basket. It opened its mouth in anticipation of food every time it sensed someone near. It was smaller than the other two babies which could fly a bit.

Fearing for the two little babies' lives, I put them again in the basket and drove them to Jeevdaya, a charitable trust-cum-hospital which takes care of animals and birds in need. All the while the little ones calling out for something during the 30-min drive.

I came back and tried listening to the calls of the third one. I saw the Parent Bulbul sitting on a ledge and felt like I heard the cries of the third baby right near to where they were perched. I didn't interfere but I was worried.

I couldn't apologize to the Bulbuls for what we did. Last night I prayed for these babies before sleeping. And I prayed to see the third one.

Today morning, after I came back from my earlier-than-usual morning run, I spotted the third Bulbul baby perched on top of one of our compound's boundary ledge-grill. And yet again found the Bulbul Mother feeding it. The other Bulbul Parent was around, among the leaves of a little plant nearby.

How could they have figured where it flew? How could they hear the not-so-loud calls and respond? How could they manage to stay away from so many preying eyes?

If the nest had been in place, I reckon they would've managed just fine no matter if the two babies flew helter-skelter and the third one stayed in the nest.


We really think we are smart. Don't we?

The unsophisticated little birds have their ways and they manage just fine. That is, until we interfere.

We build these fantastic buildings and landscapes by cutting down the trees which had grown without any possible human assistance. So the little creatures have no option but to adapt to the ways of humans. And then since they try to use the constructed settings, we always have opportunities. We have these contests and we have these high mega-pixel cameras. And we are so click-happy. Like I posted the pic of the Mother Bulbul the other day on FB.

We draw attention to such happenings and these little beings become toys. And then we come to their aid and feel great at helping them.

I'm on a self-deprecating spiral. Can't feel anything but that there's a huge downside to the 'progress' we so often keep referring to. We are an ever-growing attention-craving status-anxiety-driven generation and we are adding the fancy tools which encourage the same. You understand the unwritten rant here.

Even paying attention and drawing attention on occasions is an act of violation and violence. Thinking 'good' for some others also is. But then one would say, every move in that sense could be violation and violence. YES, could be. Where does the line get drawn?

We invented the gun. Why? We were lazy to constantly defend ourselves from our adversaries. Lazy to prepare ourselves. Lazy to endure the surprise attacks. So we said stop them at a distance, and once and forever. Invent the gun. Shoot. Kill. Done.

Violence is at its best when it is applied to our defense and without leading to a killing of the other. Killing is a defense mechanism for the lazy. Not killing and yet being able to defend is the way of the strong. The way of the observer. The way of the 'violent but non-violent', to speak in the same breath.


I feel really sad that the Parent Bulbuls can't see the other two babies grow and take flight and be able to eat on their own. I feel sadder than the Parent Bulbuls themselves do, though I doubt if it can be like that.

After having read Rupert Sheldrake's ideas, and after having seen the Parent Bulbuls with the third baby this morning, if I speculate on the powers of nature (and the way it has shaped these organisms which do not use smartphones and gadgets) I would say (perhaps and somehow) the Parent Bulbuls sense that the other two babies are alive and growing up.


That reminds me, I should visit Jeevdaya and check up on the babies.