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Kutty the rose-ringed parakeet February 3, 2016

Posted by globejam in Childhood.
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rose-ringed parakeetThanks in main to our neem tree and its bountiful fruit, our house was at the centre of a breeding ground for rose ringed parakeets. Every year, during the season, literally hundreds of parakeets would descend on the trees around our house, screeching, squawking and fighting for prime nesting spots.

Once the parakeets settled down to the business of starting new families, it would be the turn of the crows to arrive in groups to raid the nests. Though the parakeets aggressively defended their nests, well over half the nests would eventually get raided by the end of the season.

During the initial part of the season, we would find a few broken eggs on the ground, but as days went by we would find more and more chicks lying on the ground after having been dislodged from their nests by the crows. Since we were one of the few houses in the area known to keep birds, we were seen by the neighbourhood as a sort of local bluecross and hence any chicks found alive would all be brought to our house for rehabilitation and release. During the season, at any given time, there would be 15 – 20 chicks at various stages of development at home.

Kutty was one such fledgling. She must have been one of the last hatched chicks of the season and was dropped by a crow right in our garden one morning. She must have been all of 3 – 4 days old when we got her. Like most bird chicks she was one ugly baby. Her beak and feet were almost adult size while the rest of the body was baby sized and looked like a plucked chicken with golden fuzz. Looking at her it was easy to accept that birds have evolved from dinosaurs!

As it was the fag end of the season, by the time we got her, we had already gone through a couple of months of hectic and noisy nursing at home and my parents had reached the end of their tether. The day we found kutty was the day my father made his eyes large and shouted “That’s it! No more parakeets in the house henceforth! If I find one more parakeet in the house, um… umm…., I don’t know what I’ll do!”.

We promptly put Kutty in a tiny cage and hid her in the attic. She was quiet for the first couple of days, so our subterfuge went undetected. But once she had regained her energy, she started squawking lustily and it was no longer possible to hide her at home. We nevertheless left her in the attic in the hope that by the time my dad came back home in the evening Kutty would be asleep. Unfortunately, it turned out to be wishful thinking on our part as Kutty started bawling her heart out the moment my dad stepped into the house. Thankfully, he let it pass, probably having forgotten his threats earlier in the week.

Kutty grew up quickly but continued to remain small in size. By the time she was all feathered up and had started resembling a parakeet, all the other parakeets under our care had flown away, so she mostly had only us for company. As she was a slightly stunted specimen, we kept her in a small cage. For a long time her tail feathers did not grow which made her look even tinier than she was. To top it all, when her tail feathers finally started sprouting, she had the habit of plucking them out herself. We thought this was weird until we figured out that she was doing this because there was not enough space in her cage and tail feathers made turning around within the cage difficult. Saddened by our stupidity we quickly moved her to a much larger cage, and within a couple of weeks she had grown a beautiful tail and looked every bit the most elegant of parakeets.

She was a friendly loving bird and she would be happy to sit on my shoulder and nibble my earlobe gently all day long. She did have some strange quirks though. We tried to teach her to talk but beyond mimicing my whistle (“twee-two”) and my brother’s, she seemed uninterested in saying much. Repeating “pretty polly, pretty dear”, which for some reason is the equivalent of asdfgf;lkjhj in the talking bird world, in her ears has little effect. She also did not seem very keen on flying, happy to walk around with her butt wagging back and forth. Her strangest quirk however was the way she behaved once she had climbed to the top of the bamboo blind in our verandah!

Our tiny house had a verandah outside where we kept Kutty’s cage. The verandah had a bamboo blind which could be rolled up and down as required. Docile Kutty loved to climb the blind and perch on top of it.  Once she reached there, there would be a dramatic transformation. She would become highly territorial and extremely aggressive. If we approached her, her pupil would narrow down into a black dot while the rest of her eyeball would become completely white. She would hiss and growl like she were some dangerous creature. If any of us went within her reach, she would lash out with her beak as though she was ready to tear us limb from limb. Once she was in that mood no amount of cajoling and coaxing would bring her down.

The only way to get her down from her perch was to entice her with her favourite peanut burfi. At 5 paise at the corner store, this sweet was the only thing that had the power to get her down and back to her own sweet self! As soon as she spied the burfi on the porch under the blind, she would, with unseemly hurry, start her descent head first. Within two strides she would nearly lose her hold on the bamboo. She would then recover her grip and with better sense continue down backwards at a more sedate pace. Once down she would take one nibble at the burfi and be transported to another universe of ecstasy. After that, I could even remove the burfi from her mouth and put my finger in and she wouldn’t mind. She would just look at me with loving eyes and use her thick tongue to lick my finger gently and I would be left wondering if this was the same bird that till a moment ago was trying to rip my throat out!

We were all extremely fond of Kutty and kept her for a little longer than necessary. Finally, one day we decided that we could not keep her from her freedom and gently coaxed here to take wing and join her wild cousins. She flew up easily and joined them and that was the last we saw of her.

A year later, I was looking up at a new batch of prospective parents and wondering how Kutty was faring when in the midst of all the squawking and screeching I heard the distinct “twee-two” whistle of mine and I knew Kutty was safe and fine.

If there is such a thing as pure joy, I think, just maybe, I may have felt it that day.

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Comments»

1. S.satish Kumar - February 3, 2016

Thank you for taking us back on such a wonderful trip down memory lane.

globejam - February 9, 2016

Thanks da.


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