Nothing is ever cruel in the bird kingdom. It’s not as though they hold talons and waltz their differences away. They can be vicious too. They kill their own babies. They invade foreign territories. And wreck each other’s air travel plans. But they do so only for survival.
The most brutal attack I have seen took place two years ago at Pulicat. Two Jacobin Cuckoos invaded a Baya Weaver nest colony. It was agonizing to see them tear to shreds each painstakingly-woven nest. I was also confused. They are known to feed on insects and fruits only.
I shrieked and waved my arms in the air like I was in a cheesy 90s hip-hop video. I caught their attention but they didn’t seem to care. Right then, two Black Drongos came to the rescue, like dark knights with forked tails, and chased them away.
It might have been because their nests were close by too. Still, I wanted to believe that it was a heroic act.
I couldn’t say the same for my own actions. It ranked up there with “try to remove a porcupine quill from a pony’s butt out of sympathy” as one of the dumbest things I have done. I realized that I had been an interference. And that it is never a good idea to go against nature’s orders. Even if I didn’t understand some of them.
It is pertinent that we contribute, how much ever we can, to sustain our ecosystem. Interrupting a territorial fight or a feeding session between wild souls just isn’t a part of it.
Nature is no place for our god complexes.
Months later, I watched as another Baya Weaver colony was under attack. This time – a female Shikra went in for the kill, make an amuse-bouche of the young ones. I didn’t feel great about it. But I just stood and watched.
Soon the Shikra took off, with a few baby Baya Weavers. I watched as the adults in the colony came back. There were songs of lament. The air was thick with murder. Five minutes later, everything was back to normal.
Some began repairing the older nests, and others were collecting material to build new ones. I was gazing at a particular couple who were putting the finishing touches on their new home. They seemed excited when it was done.
Everything was fine.
Home isn’t always a place
your feet can take you to,
but you can build a house
anywhere your heart takes root.
(Photographs: Pulicat Lake)