When the national bird appears

I feel both joy and sadness at the presence of this bird
Last Updated : 19 November 2020, 19:12 IST

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A tap-tapping outside my bedroom window awakened me from my afternoon nap. Thinking it was a woodpecker in the coconut palm outside, I jumped out of bed and rushed to the window, eagerly pulling the curtain open. What happened next startled me into yelping. There was an agitated squawk, a rush and swoosh of feathers as the peacock which had been pecking at the window sill, spread its wings and flew to a tree beyond our garden wall. We had both startled each other. Perhaps it was searching for dead moths or other insects on the window sill. the sudden opening of the curtain must have frightened a heart attack. The poor thing made loud honking alarm calls for quite some time going, “ troi, troi, troi” till its heartrate returned to normal.

When I first came to live here in rural Karnataka decades ago, the house was in a Sylvan paradise. The area surrounding our compound was like a forest, thick with shrubs and trees and covered with undergrowth. For a city girl like me, it was nothing short of Eden. I saw new birds everyday. Birds that I had never set eyes on before. With the help of field guides, I began to identify the winged beauties and even maintained a journal where I noted down my birdwatching experiences.

As years passed, houses began to crop up where there had been only wilderness. Since the area was no longer a safe habitat for the avian denizens, the number of species began to dwindle every year. Today, I see only about half the species I had recorded in past years.

Interestingly, peafowl were never among the birds seen in yesteryears. They have become common only in the past two years or so. They are forest dwellers so their presence in domestic gardens only means that their natural habitat no longer exists.

Today, I see them around my house throughout the day. They wander about in groups of hens and chicks, ever alert to rush away at the slightest sound. I can see them on rooftops, in trees and foraging on the ground. I feel both joy and sadness at the presence of this bird. Joy because it is so beautiful and sadness because cruel selfish man has destroyed its home. Losing its secure home with abundant food available, this bird is now forced to live in close proximity to man and survive as a scavenger.

Published 19 November 2020, 18:40 IST

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