Throughout the past month it was Mum who tracked the whole nesting process of the Red-vented Bulbuls, in between her busy schedule of running her playschool, managing a deranged family and one loony pet-labrador by the name of Alvin. It was around the first week of April that we noticed signs of nesting activity in a Christmas tree in the backyard, while taking Alvin out (aged one month then) for his daily business. Mum immediately banned the family from approaching the area and took it upon herself to protect the Bulbuls from us. I and Sai occasionally pottered about in the backyard, took cover behind bushes and photographed the birds from a safe distance. We used a camera with a 12x optical zoom, so we assure you we did this without bothering the bulbuls. While we were spared from an ambush from the protective parents whenever we went into the backyard, Alvin in all his innocence was subjected to a furious blitzkrieg whenever he went nosing about at the base of the tree. Sai succeeded in dragging away the dog from ground-zero, for he survives to this day to maul and bark at us.
That the Bulbuls had chosen our backyard for nesting, the realization that two little eggs had been laid, that they had hatched, the sight of the pink, skinny babies with bulging blue-black eyelids-their beaks agape clamouring for food were amazing moments. And today the fledglings made their first venture beyond their home. Awkward wing beats, apprehensive minutes waiting for Mom and Dad to come to their aid. While baby 1 was happily (or unfortunately ) stuck on the Parijatam tree blinking away at its predicament, baby2 was a faster learner, clambering over tree trunks and launching itself back and forth across the Parijatam and Karaunda trees.
Three summers back two Purple Sunbirds built a nest in the same Parijatam tree and bore the scorching summer heat for a single egg. Their beaks closing and opening as if they were panting in the heat. A couple of weeks later, I found them gone. The nest abandoned. I put my hand into their pendulum-shaped nest and brought out a tiny egg and held it against the sunlight. It was barren. And just a shell. At that instant I felt really bad. When the Red-vented Bulbuls started nesting in our yard I hoped the same wouldn’t happen to them. And today, with their chattering calls resounding in the backyard, (“I told you not to let them fly today! Look now! They are stuck in two different trees!”:p), it feels awesome!
So I am jinxed. A cat came and caught hold of one of the babies, right in front of my eyes, even before this post went up on Urban Babblers, while the other baby escaped to two houses away. The parents were calling away anxiously, flying after the cat. And I was the one who went poking about the bushes to see if the babies were okay, when Sai chased the prowling cat away. They got scared and scattered in two different directions. I feel horrible. :(
One Bulbul returned with fruit in its mouth to feed the fledglings and found an empty bush. I feel very (raised to the power of infinity) horrible. :(
Mum claims she saw the other baby survivor and the parents feeding it.
I don’t think I can ever again look at a Bulbul directly in its eye. Ever.