A Tail of The Bulbul

A Tail of The Bulbul
G. L. Mattoo

Birds are no strangers to our courtyard. I and my wife feel lucky to see variety of birds visting us everyday.They usually frequent in the morning when we, without fail put some food for them in the bird-feeder, a set place on the coping of the boundary wall.

When a Bulbul chirps in or around your house,you should expect a guest,goes an old saying. But this lockdown, it wasn’t so. A pair of Bulbul (Nightingale)decided to be the guests themselves.The lockdown had just begun when they frequented our place and surveyed quietly to choose a bushy tree for laying eggs.It took them a week or so in building a cup shaped nest in a perfect copy book style.
During the next few days after the nest was built, three dotted light pink eggs had been laid. As the nest was at my eye level, I could view their activities vividely. The birds were unmindful of our presence and in carrying out household chores like washing of the courtyard and watering the plants etc. in the vicinity.Remembering correctly, the hatching process started on the 27th of May 2021. The red vented Bulbuls took turns in the incubation process. It was perfect understanding between the mother and father birds not to leave the eggs exposed at any stage.

All this went on for almost two weeks. We kept watch on the nest constantly so that there was no intruder. The Squirrel living in the high trees nearby did visit the nest on a few occassions and left without harming the birds or their eggs. Probably the Squirrel was also inquisitive to check on their welfare like a good neighbourly gesture. We tried to be patient all through and developed a sense of slow movements and speaking in low voices so as not to disturb the birds.

Now the hatching was over and the chicks had come out of the eggs as was apparent from more frequent dashes by the parent birds in the activity of getting food for the new borns. The mother Bulbul would now sit on the chicks with wide open wings after giving them a feed. She would leave the nest for father Bulbul as it was his turn to do the feeding of the babies. This continued for almost two weeks. As for the feed, I could observe that the birds would generally bring insects in their beaks to feed the chicks who required a high protein food to grow within the limited time span of their growth process. At times I could see the birds bringing water in their mouth to feed the chicks. The bird-feeder lying nearby was a good source for instant food for the babies.
While we watched the feeding process in the utter silence of the lockdown the parent birds were always vigilant. They would raise an alarm if we went very close to the nest. At times they were hostile and sometimes calm and glaring at us as if conveying their thanks for the support given to them during the hatching and fledging, a processof development of wings, feathers that are large enough for the flight of the newborn.

On the day 13, I observed that the space of the nest had fallen short for the three and the time had come for the new born to fly. Out of the three I saw two having come out and sitting on the branchs near the nest.

Next morning as usual I tried to look at the nest and to my dismay found the duo having taken their flight into the natural habitat while the third lay motionless in the nest.

The parent Bulbuls were nowhere to be seen. We both felt something missing