An ode to winged visitors
Earlier, there was a strong bond between human beings and birds. The so-called green revolution made the environment inhabitable for birds.
I live in a thinly populated locality on the outskirts of an industrial city. The vacant plots surrounding my home are lush with wild growth of grass and shrubs – a suitable and safe place for birds to perch and build nests. The intricately-knit nests of weaver birds are a sight to watch.
I have a spacious backyard where I have placed bowls to serve food and water to the birds. On 15th August, which was my 85th birthday, as I stepped out with night’s leftovers, I saw a pair of brown partridges sitting on the boundary wall. The male sang merrily and the female listened attentively. I stood still in the doorway watching this delectable sight and listening to soulful song. What a marvelous birthday gift for me!
The scene transported me to my childhood, when we considered the singing of partridges on our right as a good omen. The song ‘Subhan teri quadrat’ of black partridge was considered very auspicious.
There was a strong bond between human beings and birds back then. The so-called green revolution made the environment inhabitable for birds. Many species have disappeared now. Even the kites and vultures have become extinct. Dogs eat carcasses and attack human beings.
After scorching summer, human beings and birds and insects welcomed the rains. The frogs croaked, the insects buzzed, the peacocks ‘mayood’ and danced. Alas! I hear such music no more.
The food-filled bowl in my backyard attracts many winged visitors. I have counted fifteen kinds of birds: crows, sparrows of different shades, doves, pigeons, woodpeckers, magpies, myenas, parrots, plovers, partridges, nightingales etc.
I think there is no better way to begin the day than watching the birds eat, chirp and sing. Alas! Punjab countryside has lost many species due to overuse of insecticides and pesticides. It is ironical birds have to migrate to cities because their natural habitat has been poisoned.
Can life be enjoyable without birds? If birds die can man survive? I would not like to live in a world without birds. I am reminded of a Pakistani poet’s couplet :
Is shehar mein parinda koi nahin hai
Kya yahan zinda koi nahin hai
May good sense prevail and Punjabis re-establish bond with birds.
( The writer is a Ludhiana-based retired professor of English)
First Published: Sep 08, 2018 22:32:48