Careful while you click!

Who isn’t fascinated by birds’ nests with eggs in them? But remember that it may not be a good idea to take out your camera. Here’s why…


The moment she hears him uttering… pitititit… she knows something is wrong. Almost immediately, he gives another urgent call sounding like Be care-ful ! The urgency tells her it is too dangerous to remain there. At his next alarm call, in a flurry of wings, she flees from her nest. His voice sounds frantic from the opposite shrub Be-quick-quick ! She knows from his tone he is angry and upset. He was the one who convinced her that this is the best place in the area to build their nest. They finished building their cup-like nest only last week and she had laid two eggs. They both had been taking turns at incubating the eggs, waiting for the chicks to hatch in two weeks time. And then, suddenly, this trouble.

Only two weeks ago, the boy had noticed two Red-vented Bulbuls carrying blades of grass, rootlets, and small twigs into the dense bush near his house. Seeing them making several trips, he realized they were building a nest. One fine morning from his terrace he noticed the birds entering the bush again. He looked carefully and discovered a cup-like nest. He was excited at his find, but annoyed that the nest was not clearly visible, being hidden inside the bush by branches and leaves. He had recently got a camera and wanted to take a photograph of the nest. With his camera slung around his neck, he ran down to the bush. To get a clear view of the nest he pushed aside the branches opening the bush to his lens and light. Suddenly, he heard a bird calling loudly from nearby and saw one flying out of the nest. He cursed his luck for missing the opportunity of getting a photo with the bird sitting on the nest. He peeped into the nest and saw two eggs. He put the camera on the nest and clicked several photos and close-ups. Later, he shared those photos with his friends. They liked the photos and praised his photographic skills.

She calls out to him in agitation. He flies in to perch beside her on the same branch and they look at the huge creature that is at their nest for nearly a quarter of an hour. Only after it moves away, do they go and inspect what has become of their home. Her voice is sad as she says, “We should move on”. He is upset over what happened and what she said. He chose that location because it was nicely concealed. Not many creatures could find or penetrate to their nest easily. Even if that did happen, they could both put up a fight and chase the intruder away. Still, that was impossible with the huge creature with the clicking thing. The time and energy they spent in building their nest was enormous. Even more than that was the energy she had invested to produce two eggs. Then, the days they spent in patient incubation. All that was now a waste. If this clicking creature had not disturbed them, they would soon have seen their chicks. The season was perfect to raise the young ones, with the fig tree in fruit nearby and lots of insects available. But now, they cannot continue at the same nest: it is exposed to the whole world. Any predator can see them. It would be too risky for them, the eggs, the future chicks. It is too late to start afresh in a new place: they have to wait for the next season to start their family again. The two of them look at their nest one last time, and fly away in different directions.


This article appeared in the Hindu in School on 18 September 2013.