5 Aug 2005

Monsoon Magic

Well, i am around, just been quiet for sometime. Didn’t get washed away by the flood waters… not yet !My flat has a long window facing the south-east. The window has horizontal bars and three panes. To keep out insects, it is covered on the inside with nylon mesh. i generally do not open the pane nearer my bed - the curtain also remain drawn - but the other two remain open throughout the year.

A month after i moved into the flat last year, a pair of Spotted (Scaly-breasted) Munias (Lonchura punctulata) discovered a safe haven between the closed windowpane and the mesh. For many days they laboured, flying in with fluttering strips of green vegetation, twigs and what i thought were the soft green tips of plant stems. The nesting material kept piling up as scrappy stuffing behind the mesh. And i had begun to wonder whether human encroachment and urbanization of the environment, had made the birds lose their nesting skills.

Realizing that i had not seen the birds flying-in for a few days, i parted the curtains and was amazed to find the unruly pile transformed into a beautiful circular chambered nest !

The pair reared a clutch of noisy nestlings, but one day, just as suddenly as the birds had appeared, the female vanished with her brood. For a few days i heard the male bird flying-in to the nest and plaintively calling out to his family inside the nest. But there was only silence in response... And then, he too flew away.

One day during the winter, i peeled away the mesh on the window and removed the birds’ nest. It had turned brown and dry and crumbled into shreds as i cleaned it out.

A pair of Spotted Munias again discovered the cozy nook in the window early in June this year. They quickly flew-in some twigs into the gap. i have not seen them collect any more nesting material. Neither do they spend the nights on the window. But lying in my bed, i hear the pair fly-in every morning, and spend long hours in the nook - whistling and singing while fluttering between the window bars. Two hearts in love, serenading in courtship in their favourite hideout !

i wonder if this is the same pair that nested during the monsoon last year. Do even little Munias have such good memories ?

ps - Mr Clean squeaked and
i was reminded of our dear own Lallu hosing the tonsured on the streets of Patna, not so long ago. A dip of my hat to the General, he is getting his F-16s anyway !

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