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Deccan Chronicle article

Jun 2, 2010   //   by van   //   Featured  //  No Comments

Pariah Kite from Ramaiah Hospital

May 10, 2010   //   by van   //   Featured  //  No Comments

Got a call from a person saying he has seen a Baby Kite fall from its nest and no one are able to go near as the adult birds are attacking the people who try to go near it. I was near to that place and reached within 15 minutes. It was a juvenile Pariah Kite and I started observing the place. I saw a few Coconut trees and saw a nest in one of the tree and even 2 Pariah Kites screeching and hovering. As I went near the juvenile kite, one of adult started flying towards me. I protected myself by waving a carton box in air.  The nest was at about 45-50 feet from the ground and the juvenile kite must be 25-30 days old. I enquired around to see if anybody knows to climb the tree. Someone said there was a tender coconut seller who climbs the tree and he was called.  He came there and we explained him the situation and asked him if he can help the juvenile bird to reach its nest. He said the adult birds will attack while climbing which is quite dangerous for him.  I told him that if his Head and face is covered then he might not get hurt and I covered his face and head with cardboard sheet and he made sure that he is comfortable in his armored outfit. He started to climb the tree suddenly a Kite came and attacked his head and he stopped a bit and made sure that he is safe and climbed again  but he was repeatedly attacked by both the Kites and so he came down from the tree. He was safe but the cardboard sheet was torn to pieces. Then we tried covering his head with helmet but it pressed to the tree and he wasn’t able to balance. After several attempts we gave up the idea of Re-union and I took the baby in a cardboard box to the shelter.

He was kept in a cage and fed 4-5 times a day and he adjusted to his new nest and food but nobody can replace a mother’s care and we don’t know much about behavior of birds, compared to mammals. We can understand Mammalian behavior to a certain extent by their expressions, sounds, movements etc  but when it comes to Birds, it is very difficult to understand and it needs thorough observation and fulltime involvement.

After 2 weeks he gained some weight and started pruning himself and slowly started responding to the calls of other kites, he started observing the sky which belongs to him and started flapping the wings, but he was too small to fly on his own, may be if he was with his mother then he would have started flying by now, but here he should wait for some more days.

Days passed and now he was more eager to fly, he was continuously trying to fly and he was released but he just jumped here and there and started sitting on the compound wall. This is how they initially start to learn but if the mother was there she would have taught him the lessons on the secret of flying. Now without knowing  the next lesson, he would just look at me, then at the sky and again jumps here and there. The whole day, he did this and surprisingly once he came and sat on my shoulders! At first I was worried if he holds tightly with his powerful talons then I am done for, but he held slowly without hurting and slowly started walking and came on my hand and started calling loudly as if he is taking to me and asking for next lessons. But I was helpless! All that I could do was to feed him and take care of him, he has to try and learn the next lessons of his life on his own.

Finally he succeeded to fly a bit and sat on a tree!  It was his first flight and it was a thrilling experience to see his first flight. While he spent the whole night on that tree, I spent it thinking only about him. Early morning, I went to see his further movements. I saw he was there on the tree and slowly sun started to raise in the east as well as my desire to see him fly.  I observed him till 9 in the morning without moving anywhere but he didn’t moved a bit also and I thought if I am there he will not try. So I moved from that place and observed him from faraway. He was observing his surroundings but didn’t move a bit.  Time moved seconds to minutes, minutes to hours, but he didn’t move. Then by evening I thought he may need some more time and he was hungry also as he didn’t eat anything that day. I kept his food on the compound near to the branch he was sitting and moved away from there. But he didn’t move a bit. I waited for 2 hours but still he was sitting on the tree like a statue. Then I thought I made a mistake and planned to take him down from the tree but he never showed any interest towards coming down from the tree and it became dark.  I thought of letting him be there and bringing him down from the tree, early in the morning.  Till late in the night I observed him but there was no change in his position and went to sleep in a sad mood. Till midnight I couldn’t sleep and didn’t know when I slept.

Morning I went to the tree with a huge stick but surprised to see the place was empty, one side I was happy thinking that he has flown away, but continue to search for him around the place and then spotted him sitting on a nearby street lamp.  Super!!! He had flown more than 200 feet! In no time he started to fly and landed on another tree, there were no words and it was time for celebrations.  I observed his flights for sometime and went for a snake rescue call. I came back in the afternoon and searched for him but unable to find him I went inside. But within 15 minutes I heard a huge screech and ran out to see what it was and couldn’t believe what I saw. There he was hovering on the sky with another kite. I was surprised to see that he got a Companion/Teacher, Thank God! The other kite was teaching the flying skills to our kite and he was following the classes like an obedient student. The lessons went on for more than an hour and those moments will remain to be one of the best moments in my life.  After this he visited several times but never landed down, he will screech, hover and if sees me circle 3 or 4 times on top of me and then carry on with his daily routine.

A Barn Owl from Byatarayanapura

Aug 30, 2009   //   by van   //   Featured  //  No Comments

Got a call from a guy saying that he has seen an owl which was unable to fly and was hiding in a gutter. I noted down the location, asked him to arrange for a carton box in the meanwhile and reached the place.  It was a newly formed layout with few houses and 2-3 new houses were in construction process.  I met the guy who called me and he showed the gutter where the Owl was hiding.  There was no water in the gutter but it was covered on the top, with a length of more than 30 feet from one opening to another and there was a beautiful Barn owl hiding. He was frightened and once he saw us he went further deep inside.  One of the person from construction site came there and asked what we were doing and when we told him that we are trying to catch the owl he said he will do that and within no time took a stone and threw it into the gutter! We stopped him and asked what he was trying to do for which he said that he was the person who made that owl to fall from the tree. He said this owl was trying to build its nest in the tree and since he considered it a creature that brings bad luck to those who see it, he threw few stones at it and when it didn’t fly, he used a huge stick and hit the owl hard and thought it to be dead and left. He was surprised to see it alive and wanted to kill it again.

For a while thought of raining blows on that guy but then decided to explain and bring him out of his ignorance instead. I explained to him how important an owl is for our ecosystem and that even they will have a family etc. When I saw my gyan did not work on him, I explained the Owl’s mythological importance in India such as how people worship the Owl in North India as a symbol of Goddess Lakshmi and if anyone tries to hurt the owl then Lakshmi the goddess of Wealth will became angry on them and they will not come-up in their life. Now, this possibility of inviting the wrath of the Goddess of Wealth and going pauper made him really scared. He then asked me what to do to set the records right. Then I came to know instantly why our ancestors have linked snakes, animal and birds with Gods. He said he was not aware of this and promised he will not hurt owls anymore. I asked him to bring a huge stick and he brought the same stick he used to hit the owl. I made the owl to come out of the gutter and caught him. The owl was bleeding from the wings. I  checked for any fracture but luckily there were no fractures and I took him to the shelter.

It was an adult female Barn owl and may be in the process of building the nest but now because of that stupid guy it had to pause its breeding atleast for a week or two. She was disturbed and initially tried to bite me while giving first aid. The wound was not deep but may be because of the shock she was not able to fly. Whole day she used to spend in the nest box and at night she used to come out and eat the food kept for her and observe the surroundings and sometimes let out a small screech sound. But if she sees any one of us she will try to frighten us and immediately hide inside the nest box.  This went on for more than 10 days and one evening I saw her struggling to come out of the cage and before I open the cage she opened it herself and flew around showing that she was ready. She went and sat on the compound and started observing the surroundings and suddenly she then came and sat on my shoulders. I was surprised at her action and didn’t know what to do. I had seen the pariah kite doing this but not a Barn Owl. I felt there might be some connection between her and me. She was there for a while and started flying and again entered back into the room. I went near and told her to go out and fly. Surprisingly she refused to go out by nodding and turning her head several times. I thought she needs something to eat and gave her last supper. She ate it completely in few seconds and then looked at me and flew away and sat on a tree nearby and remained there till 11 in the night. I saw her flying and disappearing in the dark to restart her half done work leaving me with some permanent memories…