The sound of the moving twigs woke me up. It was a quiet night with no wind. The tree had grown under my own eyes and it rose up to my window, almost touching the glass window- panes. I remembered having collected the white small flowers that fell from the branches when I had rocked the tree in the fall season. I even remembered the attempt to climb up on its trunk, which ended up with bruises on my elbow and my chin.
The sound of the twigs came from very close to the window where I had seen the bird making her nest last evening. It started off very slowly. The ladybird sat on the branch and received the supplies of twigs from her partner. She then took each one on her beak and carefully led them on the space where the branches met to make a small room. She occasionally made a squeaking sound whenever she found the twig to be a misfit. The partner made to and fro trips to nearby places collecting whatever it could, while the would-be mother prepared the nest.
The movement of the twigs so early in the morning meant the laying of the eggs. I peeked through the window and observed that the mother was sitting at the middle while the partner looked from the top. He appeared to be worried as he went through the procedure.
I went to sleep and forgot about the incident during the next day.
It was my little daughter who took me to the window to show me the eggs the next day. They looked pale white on the blackish twigs and leaves that made the home of the birds. The mother was sitting on the eggs but occasionally she moved to the sides. The eggs could be visible for only a moment.
My daughter was ecstatic about the eggs, more for the impending birth of new birds on our favourite tree. It meant new neighbours for her. She ate her lunch sitting on the window and her mother would offer her food to the birds as well and so they knew each other as friends. Sometimes I had seen the mother-bird sitting on the window eating on her leftovers while she watched from close distance. The three made a company.
“Daddy there are two eggs. So there will be two birds.”
My curiosity was aroused at this and I looked out of the window on a Saturday, when I was sitting at my davenport. The mother bird was sitting tight at the middle of the nest and her partner watched from the branch just right on top of her. The two looked at each other for some company perhaps. Just at that moment the commotion started unannounced.
A horde of birds ransacked the nest. Each one of them took turns to bite at the mother and the beaks touched each other in a fearsome battle. The mother finally left her place for a safer haven while her partner took the assault in his own stride. The chirping continued and the whole place was crowded with birds of all ages perhaps.
My daughter told me later that the father bird made a valiant attempt to save the eggs. He was the winner at the end and no one could take away the eggs from the nest.
I had almost forgotten the incident when my daughter told me one day that one of the eggs had fallen from the tree and was smashed to pieces. She in fact cried a bit relating the incident that a few birds had actually licked the last remnants of a baby bird from the vestige of eggshells while the father bird looked from the high branches. He had later come down and had quietly looked at the shells that lay scattered on the ground. Then he had looked up at the nest and may have wondered what had made the egg fall to the ground.
One day when I had come home early from work I saw my daughter sitting on the window looking at the nest outside. I knew that something new was in the offing and she told me that the small baby bird was born early in the morning. It was very small and kept very low in the nest cushioned by the motherly feathers. The mother never left the nest while the father came from time to time to feed her. They transferred food from beak to beak while the young one waited. The mother fed her through her beak.
The small one had no eyes almost. It cuddled into the mother’s soft feathers and appeared to sleep. It was a wonderful sight to see the twosome and I wondered that it was similar to my child sleeping in the laps of her mother when she was a small child.
The growing of the small bird was a sight in itself. It required the caring eyes of a child or a mother to like each step that the two stakeholders took. The mother was cautious and watchful while the child was ever obedient, discerning every step that the mother dictated. My daughter watched and related every step to me.
A few days later I saw the small bird one day on the Cornish of the building as if it had hopped out from the nest. How it had managed to reach there remained a mystery to me. It was surrounded by both the parents who kept on instructing the little one by the birdly conversations which I could not decipher. But I reckon it was more of encouraging treaties that went with a beginner’s training session.
My mind wondered to the enjoyable session we had a few years back. Something all of us enjoy in our parenthood, helping the child to walk.
The session went on throughout the afternoon. The little bird hopped and skipped. The parents were always beside the small one. At every step there was the resounding evidence of encouragement through the talk and the grazing of beaks. Finally at the end the bird reached the landing. It could now gyrate its wings and shake her inertia off. It was confident now to walk and jump and shake the wings, which were tiny.
The next day I was inquisitive to know the denouement of the teaching lessons. I watched from the window and I observed that the bird was on her own already. She reached the end of the landing and watched her parents.
Then suddenly she took a leap on her own. She cleared the landing and off she went into the air. She began to fly.
The parents watched her take the flight. They leaned and bend their heads and beaks and watched in amazement. Then they followed her into the air.
They returned to their nest. The child did not. The mother waited till the very end when the color of the day darkened and the night fell down silently. She looked in all directions.
The father appeared to be restive. It was quite a rueful day, helping to fly.
There was a lesson in this for all managers. Helping people to deliver what they are capable of doing, but with some parental care.
Procyon, 25th May, ‘02