Sunday, January 4, 2009
Blossom headed parakeets
I noticed a group of parakeets with plum heads and sweet chirpings ( not screeching) sitting on an old leafless tree outside our house in the village, in Kangra (H.P),in October 2008. When I visited again in Dec 2008, a new house was getting built next to the tree and birds seem to have generally abandoned their perch on this tree.
For a moment I was disappointed. But the village is still surrounded by tall trees as most people who own arable land have grown trees there rather than cultivating wheat or corn. The resultant wooded areas house a large variety of birds, including parakeets.
Most villagers feed grains to birds and the parakeets prefer to come early morning before other birds like the tree pies and jungle crows arrive for their share.
Seeing them fly in with a chorus and peck the grains is a remarkable way to start a cold morning. I noticed that when the blossom headed parakeets feed, other birds keep away, including ordinary parakeets. The flock seemed to move in large numbers with alert calls being sounded at the slightest disturbance. Seeing them take off all at once reminded me of the Jataka tale of the parakeets lifting the net which the bird catcher had laid for them.
"There was once a flock of birds peacefully pecking seeds under a tree. A hunter came along and threw a heavy net over them. He said, "Aha! Now I have my dinner!"
All at once the birds began to flap their wings. Up, up they rose into the air, taking the net with them. They came down on the tree and, as the net snagged in the tree's branches, the birds flew out from under it to freedom. The hunter looked on in amazement, scratched his head and muttered, "As long as those birds cooperate with one another like that, I'll never be able to capture them! Each one of those birds is so frail and yet, together they can lift the net."