Pune was happily nuzzling under the monsoon some days ago. Lost in thought, on a luckily sunny morning, I was, as usual, staring into my collection of pots and plants that morning. Happy with the very green leaves and the bright red tomatoes that needed to be plucked, I turned to weed a particularly dense corner where my pink-red hibiscus and Kardal plants grew amicably with the Gladioli.
What is his problem I mumbled when I saw my regular guest, a perky tiny green and yellow sunbird, disturbed at my presence. Not wanting to irritate the little fellow who I knew visited that corner for the nectar from the Kardal (Canna indica) and Hibiscus, I moved to the far corner and continued my pottering. The smart fellow, I observed, was making frantic frequent trips to that corner of my garden and it wasn’t for food. Naturally intrigued, I kept watch.
His mission I soon happily realized was to build a nest in a fold of a kardal leaf. Through the day and over two more, he flew in and out, muttering sometimes quiet at others, sharp beak filled with bits of cotton and something I like to call twine.
Thus a nest was ready in a corner protected from the rain and from prying eyes as I discovered later. The Mrs okayd it and moved in. I never figured when the eggs were laid, but I knew they were when I saw my little friend flying in and out, fast as always, with insects in his beak.
I spent many minutes every single day staring at the nest hoping to see a teeny head pop out or at least hear a cheep. Rainy days and thundering nights came and went, but not a tweet did I hear nor a movement detect. With the days, my curiosity grew and I went closer and closer trying to squeak into their little home. Unfortunately, I never figured how many had hatched. For, every time I went to the nest there was not a squeak. And that with kids around, as you may know, is a tough call indeed.
I realized I would have to wait, albeit impatiently, till Mama and Dada decided it was time for the little ones to take flight. My wait was rewarded one overcast Sunday evening. Upset at Dadas persistent loud chirping, hoping he and his family were not being heckled, I snuck a look at the terrace. And somehow knew the time had come. I ran in and got Arin. Together we peered into the terrace trying to spot the little one. “There it is,” cried Arin and after all these anxious weeks of waiting, I couldn’t see it! “Where where where,” I cooed. “Just there mamma. He has almost no tail,” he replied. And there it was in the middle of the terrace, a scared tiny fluffy little-tail baby.
The chirping got more frantic as they saw us watching. Being a protective mom, of even their brood, I encouraged Arin to watch the flight sequence through the glass door to the terrace. Though the five-and-a-half-year-old was all dressed and ready to leave for football, this one of nature’s gifts was too much to deny, so mom and son continued to gaze adoringly on to the terrace. And discovered there was another chick. This one had no definition of a tail! And yet, with the shrill calling of its parents, it too was trying its feathers.
Delighted, both of us giggled at our discovery and continued tracking their every move. From the pots where their nest was to the curry leaf plant, the lemon tree (of which it looked like an extension) and the small railing made for the money plants, the babies were flapping furiously or then hopping.
The bulbul, nosey brat that he is, walked in to check out the commotion. Thankfully the pigeons stayed away and the mynahs observed only from a distance. The terror, for me, came in the form of crows. Worried sick that one of my family was to be picked up, I told my able footsoldier to shoo them away should they come close. Law of the jungle be damned.
With all the cheering and yelling from their parents, they learned to fly. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to see them, give them a little smile and to tell them they are welcome back with their grandkids, to nest, eat and rest.