It’s already Spring in Bangalore. The tabebuias are out and the Pongaemias have shed all their leaves. For the latter, not all trees maintain the same rhythm and some are blooming light green leaves while others are bare. There are two in front of the house, the closest one is bare while the farther one is blooming. It’ll be a few weeks before the fresh canopy is back and the flowers are out bringing with them the bees.
For now, it has been a lot of visiting from birds. Sunbirds and Tailorbirds drop by singing, feed on leaves or on insects that are attracted by the flowers from the farther tree. These are common birds that are seen wherever there are trees in Bangalore, which aren’t that common. You can hear them singing, be it the stronger singing of the red-whiskered bulbuls, the eeee-oo eeee-oo of the tailorbirds, the shrill cheep-cheep of the sunbirds or the clicking of the warblers.
This is a purple-rumped sunbird, female, feeding on Pongaemia flowers. The male has a darker head. There are two species of sunbirds that are common – the purple-rumped and the purple. The purple one is darker for the male and is somewhat similar for the female.
We came across a nest inside the hibiscus bush, 3-4 weeks back. It was beautifully built: like a cup with twigs and no synthetic materials. And nestled perfectly where the main branch was branching into multiple branches. It had the cover of leaves on top and the sides. “It is a practice nest” I announced expertly. Not like I knew it was one, I was just hoping it was! With the constant presence of a cat within a 20 ft radius, I knew what would be inevitable.
Days later I saw eggs in it, 3 of them, pinkish-blue with spots on it. (Wikipedia called that colour ‘Mauve’) It was the nest of a pair of Red-whiskered bulbuls. If you haven’t seen the bird, Google it. They’re small, the size of sparrows, maybe slightly bigger, white underside and dark upper side, with a crest and tiny red streak at the cheeks which gives them the name “Red-whiskered”. And they sing, beautifully.
Wikipedia also said that the eggs hatch after 12 days, so I figured they would hatch around last weekend. (3-4 days before this post). I kept watch on the nest. The cat was also infrequent around the house and I was happy about that. The mother/father would be seen on the nest, sleeping, or just lying on the eggs – incubating them I guess.
Around last Thursday I noticed that the eggs had hatched and there were 3 little chicks in the nest. Pretty tiny and helpless. The mother would also be seen most times, siting on top of the nest, same as before, maybe giving them warmth after food. I kept watch, the cat also seemed to have given them a wide berth.
Yesterday, I watched the chicks’ heads show up out of the nest – their mouths open, the red-whiskers forming on their cheeks already. I called Amma and we watched the birds from inside the compound, from behind the grill. The parent came along with a wasp in its beak, and perched at a safe distance from the nest. I went back and took Amma along. The bird came down to the nest and fed the chicks. It then sat on the nest as before. It was surreal. It was beautiful.