Tuesday, July 17, 2007

spotting sparrows

Of late, i've noticed sparrows in the area where i live. And i felt glad about it.

They had disappeared from the scene for quite a few years. It's not a good sign when one knows that your regular neighbours are given a run for their money. Especially, when speaking about the friendly sparrows/house sparrows(Passer domesticus). I was disappointed at not seeing them.

When i did see them last week, i was pleased. To quite an extent. Perhaps, it was a dream, thought i. One morning i woke up to bird calls. Dominated by the chirping of the sparrows. I felt blessed, truly.

B and i were taking a stroll in the neighbourhood, yesterday. Two sparrows were perched on an electric line. Typical of them. Clinging on a electric poles with the claws curved around them in perfect array. Brown-grey on the underside. Various shades of brown colouring the feathers on the dorsal surface. They are said to feed on insects and larvae.

Gone were the days when kids were shown the sparrows from a close distance. Shrill excited voices could be heard from an excited child. Sparrows in kannada are known as gubbachchi. Formerly, children were threatened that they would be carried away by the gubbachchi, if the former threw tantrums while doing anything... when being fed food, lulled to sleep, or when playing.

Tales used to be spun around these small birds. Imagination taking wings, with a gubbachchi king, queen and the little one who was naughty. The grand end appears where lessons are learnt by the young one, who transforms into a good being. Attached with morals, and happiness returning to the royal family, it served as an excellant bed-time story.

At home, shreads of chapathi, or morsels of rice were placed at a corner of a parapet, for the gubbachchi to come and feed. With sharp eyes, it's not difficult to spot the quick, up and down movements of the beaks, when they swallowed down some grains of boiled rice.

Though, it is long since the practise has been discontinued, observing a sparrow and it's nuances will always be an enjoyable pastime.

9 comments:

neela said...

Watching gubbachis was one of my pastimes too. They would flit in and out of households on days when the rice/ragi etc would be cleaned...
Their acrobatics are still in my mind. Here I hardly see that species . There is a dull larger bird resembling it.

December Stud said...

And they had the audacity to build nests right inside a home as well....

I always felt bad that the sparrows suddenyl vanished. When I was a kid, there were tons of them near home. And, now I ahd to drive all the way upto Chamundi Hills to spot them.

Oh well, your story gives a ray of hope. Good news!

Srik said...

I remember sparrow nests would suddenly appear right above the bed in my room, when I was a kid. I would look for a time when mummy sparow is out of its nest and peep in to see if the gubbis are doing fine. once the mummy sparow spotted me trying to get to her nest, and it cried foul for a long time, and later it went away, leaving the children alone. I felt so bad for the poor nest inhibitors. i tried feeding the kids by sprinkling rice grains in the nest, but only one of them survived. After this incidence, I stopped peeping in to the nests, and the chirps came back to build nests inside the house.

Now too, I spotted them, when I visited my native last time. Bangalore...no hope for me yet!!

mouna said...

neela,
i remember that. when we had to keep grains in the sunshine on the terrace, somebody had to ward them away.

ds,
i was surprised not to find sparrows at mysore. i sighted them only at chamundi hill as u've mentioned.

srik,
u remind me of one of poornachandra tejasvi's short story. he and his daughter have affairs with young chicks. nothing turns successful in the end. and ruskin bond, where his grandfather gets a raven home.

good u heard those chirps again.. and thanks! :)

Priya said...

you know what for a long time i had not spotted a sparrow or for the matter of fact crow in my area..and these days i have been spotting them daily...hmm coincidence or just "The return of the birds"..whatever it might be..birds are always welcome in the neighbourhood.. (but i do hope they do not use my house to build nests) ;)

mouna said...

priya,
ha ha ha... true! it's nice that u get to see birds nowadays!

Kalyan said...

Then there is also a saying that, the sparrows bring good luck and wealth and make nest in that house but if you destroy the nest all the lucky charms and wealth flies away. Its true they are diminishing these days.

mouna said...

kalyan,
thanks for sharing that with us. i haden't heard of that before.

The 'Ekaangi' said...

Hebbal lake is pretty close to my place...and home to lot many number of migratory birds...
Nw the lake has been leased to a private party (the Oberois), who plan to turn it into a boat club, and make a number of restaurants and guest houses. Just a kilometer away, a similar boat club exists in the Nagavara Lake area. Do we really need this ?