It ‘Calls’ Out To You… Let’s Listen!
By Yaman Gogia*
In my home city, Gurugram, around this time – in the beginning of March, while a lot of us look forward to long drives and morning runs, and walk without fear of extreme cold winds slapping our face or the fog blurring our vision, one thing that most of us do not look forward to is the soaring temperatures during daytime.
Unless you are in hills and closer to the Himalayas, the concept of spring is something we get to experience only in romantic poetry or in modern day context, we get to witness it on Instagram when people go to Japan like places and post their Cherry Blossom pictures from there. Does that mean we don’t have spring? While it is true that our spring may be short and we go from winter to summer in a much shorter span of time as compared to the western countries, it would be inappropriate to say that we don’t have spring at all! Nature still gives us enough evidence to be blessed with the change we can experience in colours (of leaves, grass, and even birds as some are in full plumage around this time), sights (resident birds come back home for breeding), and sounds (bird calls, crickets) in our surroundings that feel very different and put the ‘spring’ back in our feet.
Spring doesn’t just invite new flowers but also new fruits and lots of insects, bees, and butterflies to our hugely populated cities. What in turn also come as welcome guests with these visitors are creatures we envy a lot because they (or at least most of them) defy the laws of gravity by flying.
I don’t know what the meteorological department has to say about the forecast for next week or month in terms of climate but one thing I can assure is that you can catch some of my favourite ‘creature companions’ as you take those leisurely morning strolls or jogs in parks at the break of dawn and hear them whisper in their language of sweet bird calls: ‘Spring is here!’
So let’s meet these beaked and feathered guests that come to visit us as the fruits start to ripen and the sun gets brighter each day.
A common Asian bird also found in Africa and the Sub-Saharan region – this one is seasonal and as the name suggests, it survives on insects such as bees, flies etc. March, April are usually the months when you will see this long-tailed friend with a beautiful combination of blue, green body and dark red eyes. Its trap-like beak allows it to capture insects and flies mid-air and hence, you would rarely see it on the ground.
Often confused with woodpecker by some, this one you can particularly see resting and looking for a fresh meal, starting April–May, on fresh dewy grass while you are on your morning walk. I refer to him as the Johnny Bravo bird because of its appearance which resembles the popular hairdo of the animated character. Like its other spring peers, this too feeds on insects but the ones that reside on leaves and fruits. Hence, the ripened fruits and leaves that fall on the floor are its favourite hunting ground.
This one welcomes the spring and warmth of the Sun like none other and what a treat it is to the eyes, fluttering away almost like a butterfly! Very aptly named, Sunbirds are in full plumage around this time as they start to breed in spring. So, while you might see this bird during the winter months or at other times in the year, it will not be quite purple but rather of a dull black/brown shade. This pattern is similar to what you see in Hummingbirds. In fact, their breeding, nesting, and fruit picking patterns are also comparable to that of Hummingbirds. Hence, as the breeding season begins, you will see this little one in dark, leathery purple and black shade, gorging away on its pickings and hovering from one branch to another to feed itself and its little ones. With regard to its prey, it is akin to the Bee Eater feeding on small insects and flies, and hence, it has a similar looking beak while it also sucks in nectar straight from flowers. Next time you are walking under a fully flowered tree, do look up – this one might give you a little peek and show off a bit.
While being slightly bigger and louder than its peers, this one is perhaps more vegetarian than the others featured here. The Brown-Headed Barbet has a wedge-shaped mouth and a chewing process that helps it in ingesting fruits just like we do. Where there are berries and mangoes, you can hope to find this one! Although chances are that by the time you spot it, it will be gone, being more shy than others.
The breeding season of this multi-coloured bird starts in March and goes on almost until the monsoon months. Amongst its other friends of the Kingfisher family, this is the most common one! Hence, its visibility during these months in big cities is becoming less rare. Do consider yourself lucky if you spot this one near your house but do not be completely shocked when after a sudden shower, during your walk in a green patch, you see this little superstar looking for a sumptuous meal of worms and centipedes.
The spring season is as beautiful as we imagine it to be! We tend to forget that birds and insects are as much a part of the season as trees and flowers. In fact, without breeding these birds, these fruits will go to a complete waste and there will be no insects coming near trees, hence, leaving the cycle incomplete. And, after all, there must be a reason why nature is designed in such a way that not all fruits can be consumed by humans. So let’s cherish and welcome these friends as they enjoy the sweetness of the spring and warmth of the sun, which brings more life and creates more joy all around us!
*Author is an advertising professional living in Gurgaon, working with a digital marketing firm as a senior consultant. A student at heart, when he is not busy taking calls and meetings with his clients, he likes to take off and drive around or simply go for a bicycle ride to spot birds, amphibians or reptiles on extended weekends in an attempt to learn about these mysterious creatures.