Bird calls from backyards thrill people amid shutdowns, virus fears

Last Updated 22 March 2020, 10:35 IST

With near-zero vehicular noise, it was a surprise to hear calls of birds in the densely-populated residential complexes like never before.

The experience of a Sunday during the 14-hour Janta Curfew was unique.

The chirping of Sparrows, the tonk-sounds of the Coppersmith Barbet, the "kreaa"-call of the Alexanderine Parakeet and the 'keea keea' of the Rose-ringed Parakeet were so clear that it was a delight for bird-lovers.

The Mumbai metropolitan region (MMR), often known as the concrete jungle and known for its property prices, has its fair share of green pockets like the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnala Bird Sanctuary, Thane Flamingo Sanctuary, which are home to rich biodiversity.

From terraces, balconies and windows, people of MMR could spot and hear Sparrows, Crows, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Alaxendrine Parakeets, Oreoles, Drongos, Indian Rock Pigeons, Coppersmith Barbets, Sunbirds, Red-vented Bulbuls, Asian Koels, Babblers, Indian Mynas, Common Tailorbirds, Oriental Magpie-Robins, White Breasted Kingfishers, Herons and many more.

Hobbyist and ornithologist Sachin Main, who is the founder of NEST, said that perhaps now is when people would understand the importance of nature. "People living in second and third floors had a great advantage as they could focus on tree canopy," he said.

Vasai couple Nabendu Bhowmick and Tista, who regularly watch a huge flock of parakeets that has a nest in the trees near on the opposite building, said the bird-watching experience was different on Sunday.

"What made the difference is that there was no noise of vehicles and horns," he said.

As the Janta Curfew progressed, in Goregaon East, naturalist Raju Kasambe observed, "Amid noise from my society and the otherwise heavy traffic road going to IT Park, I can hear only crows, pigeons, mynas and sparrows". He works with the Conservation Education Centre of Bombay Natural History Society.

"It was simply great to hear birds in the backyard," said Nigam Pandya, a bird lover.

Keep pet shops open, say pet owners

Like grocery's stores, pet lovers have requested the Centre and the Maharashtra government, to relax the rules for shutdowns shops selling food and supplies for pets and aquariums.

"We must think of pets also and allow shops to open for few hours, once in two or three says," said Subrato Das, who has two dogs.

"Yes, it is an issue, people regularly come and buy food and generally do not stock," said Rupesh Sakpal of Utekar Fisheries Pvt Ltd, the biggest pet shop in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

Don't abandon pets: minister

Amid reports of people abandoning pet dogs and cats on roads, Maharashtra Heath Minister Rajesh Tope advised against it.

"There has been no case anywhere in the world of domesticated animals contracting or spreading COVID-19 and people should not abandon their pets," Tope said.

(Published 22 March 2020, 10:34 IST)

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