Begin typing your search...
‘Balcony birding’ finds favour with those stuck in urban jungle
THE extension of the national lockdown to May 3 has come as a blessing for at least some of bird watchers in the city. The clear skies, reduced noise and air pollution levels, and a more peaceful atmosphere have helped bring the birds out much to their delight.
“While most of the humans are locked inside their homes for safety from the COVID-19 virus, the feathered friends are enjoying the newfound freedom to roam safely anywhere. Without having to fear human intervention, these birds are now the new inhabitants of the urban jungle,” says Jayashree Mitra, who has been a birdwatcher for more than a decade now.
The banking and IT professional says ‘balcony birding’ has caught the fancy of many avid birdwatchers in Chennai, who have taken to this new way of satisfying their bird-watching appetite.
Mitra and Charlie Singh, another bird watcher, are regulars in this circuit and have spotted as many as 58 species just from the balcony of their 12th-floor apartment in a housing complex in Semmencherry.
Armed with a scope and binoculars that give them a clear view of the marshes and grasslands, Singh and Mitra have spotted birds such as the Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl, Grey Francolin, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis and Indian Pea Fowl among many more.
According to Mitra, friendly competitions take place between birder groups, even across continents, which keeps the bird watchers an enthused lot. “The popular bird listing platform, e bird, is used for this purpose. The growing lists show how many species are there in urban areas, especially when not disturbed by humans. People have reported seeing and hearing a large number of birds, including woodpeckers, thrushes, bulbuls, raptors,” she goes on to add.
After the lockdown, many new sights and sounds are filling the air now. “It’s not just that the birds are becoming louder, but that humans, thrown into new rhythms with fewer distractions, are also absorbing the world in more quietly intimate ways. You just notice more,” Mitra points out. Balcony birding has also brought humans together. “It’s a great way to spend time educating the children on nature and its ways. The excitement is palpable. Sighting a new bird or hearing a new call keeps everyone thoroughly engaged. There’s still much to learn from the birds, including harmony and family bonding,” she says.
The urban area of Chennai houses over 200 species of birds in habitats such as the Theosophical Society gardens, IIT-M campus, Chembarambakkam and Perumbakkam lakes. Even rare raptors like osprey and white-bellied sea eagle form part of the sighting delights of birders in the city.