Birds of the same feather

Birds of the same feather

Birds of the same feather

Kodagu, straddled on the Western Ghats, boasts of more than 300 varieties of birds. This pristine area abounds in an assortment of rare flora and fauna as well.

One of the unique selling propositions for coffee grown in these environs is that the berries develop under dappled sunlight filtered through friendly shade trees, to a medley of melodious sounds of numerous feathered bipeds.

It is claimed that these ‘happy’ berries are imbued with the finest qualities of the salubrious sylvan surroundings. Just as in a popular commercial for a Scotch that says, “as you sip their whiskey you hear hundred pipers playing,” the coffee planters in this area market their produce with the hype that the consumers could listen to chirping of birds as they savour the brew which is famously known as: the cup that cheers but not inebriates! 

When it comes to these bright coloured feathered bipeds, there are two medical doctors in Kodagu who have evocatively captured the images of local birds in all their splendour, through different art forms.

Besides their medical profession, they are well-known ornithologists as well. The first, Dr S V Narasimhan, has brought out a bilingual (English and Kannada) book titled ‘Feathered Jewels of Coorg’ in which he has painstakingly colour-sketched 310 birds of this region.
He has meticulously described each species giving their popular English names along with their scientific Latin names. Also included are the names of each species in Kannada as well as in Kodava languages.

However, Narasimhan’s efforts go far beyond just documenting bird-life in Kodagu. He is actively involved in bringing about environmental awareness and wildlife conservation in a unique way. Every year, Narasimhan hand-paints thousands of postcards of birds and animals of Kodagu with specific messages composed by him pertaining to our milieu.
He then mails them free of cost to a host of recipients.

His modest request, however, is for postage stamps so that he could distribute his hand-painted postcards to even more beneficiaries to spread his message on conservation and protection of wildlife, so very crucial to our environment. Narasimhan has, as on date, hand-painted 56,590 cards in a span of 28 years! I am sure it’s a world record. I am one of the lucky beneficiaries this year.

Aim and shoot

The other doctor, Dr Bishan Monnappa, an orthopaedician, is a keen photographer. He brilliantly captures wildlife in their natural habitat through powerful cameras.  His high-definition photographs of birds of various plumages are simply spectacular.

Dr S V Narasimhan and Dr Bishan Monnappa are popularly known as ‘Bird-men of Kodagu’. They are extending their healing touch beyond humans to the wellbeing of Mother Nature as well.

Now, who can resist drinking coffee that has bird songs recorded in its brew!

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