Bird watching in Kathmandu's urban jungle: A trip down memory lane – Online Khabar (English)

Chirping swallows gliding within the overcast skies of the Kathmandu valley a couple of days in the past got here as a pleasing shock after experiencing the monotony of gloomy winter days. The smog this winter was additionally unprecedented. The sight of the birds signalled a welcome change within the season.   

The swallows additionally introduced the reminiscence of childhood days flooding again after we used to look at them glide within the skies.  I significantly bear in mind a ground-floor store of an previous home by the aspect of Hanumanthan close to the Bagmati bridge at Kupandol, Lalitpur. Swallows had constructed a mud nest on the low wood ceiling of the store and the mum or dad swallows alternately introduced meals for his or her chicks. What was shocking was the kindness and tolerance proven by the sahujee (shopkeeper) in the direction of the birds. He appeared for use to share the room with the birds. The swallows additionally seemed to be fairly oblivious of the sahujee and the purchasers frequenting his store.

Occasions and attitudes change

A view of the Kathmandu metropolis. Photograph: Swastik Subba

A lot water has flowed beneath the Bagmati bridge since then. Wood-framed, tile-roofed previous buildings of yesteryears have been changed by concrete buildings.  I feel fashionable buildings are usually not bird-friendly within the sense previous buildings had been, particularly for birds like home sparrows and pigeons. These birds have been residing in and round habitations since time immemorial.   

With modernity, nonetheless, our angle and sensitivity in the direction of these birds additionally appeared to have modified. I have no idea how many people see these birds. I additionally surprise what number of city youngsters (who’re so effectively versed in issues regarding digital actuality) can determine the birds discovered round us.  Our priorities have modified with the change in our lifestyle and we hardly have time to spare a thought for these smaller beings.  

Not an ornithologist

I’m not an ornithologist and solely have a layman’s curiosity in birds. Nepal is well-known for the big selection of chook species discovered right here.  Specialists say numerous species of birds are discovered in several geographical components of the nation due to altitudinal variance in a really brief distance (kind south to north). And, since that I’ve little or no information of the uncommon and endangered birds discovered within the nation, I’m solely involved right here with the frequent species present in our rapid environment.

Hen sighting then and now

Pigeons at Bauddhanath stupa. Photograph: Aryan Dhimal

Whereas cursorily watching birds from the balcony of our home, I abruptly realised among the chook species we used to see round us previously are usually not there anymore. Main components of the Kathmandu valley have already been reworked right into a concrete jungle. I’m positive the outskirts of the valley nonetheless help birds comparable to sarang or dangrey (myna), jurelee (bulbul), dhobinee (magpie), phisto (warbler) and dhukkur (dove) as most of those birds feed solely on bugs. Crammed concrete buildings with hardly any house for bushes and greenery in most components of the capital metropolis can hardly be anticipated to help these birds. Solely on uncommon events, we get to see and take heed to a dhobinee or jurelee name within the cityscape. Amid all types of sound air pollution of the metropolis, the sighting of a calling or singing chook is de facto satisfying. Nonetheless, I’m nonetheless uncertain whether or not the disappearance of those birds is because of habitat loss or they’re sighted solely seasonally.

A chook perched on a metal-pipe or another concrete buildings appears misplaced and forlorn within the gray environment. It jogs my memory of Shelley’s well-known line: “Our sweetest songs are those who inform of saddest thought.”

Whereas taking a visit down reminiscence lane, I additionally bear in mind sighting wintering birds in among the ponds of the capital metropolis throughout their stopover. I don’t know in regards to the current standing of each the ponds and the birds, particularly within the context of the fast urbanisation of the valley. They’ve rebuilt Ranipokhari, however I have no idea what destiny awaits Kamalpokhari.  

Main rivers now not liveable

Hutityaaun/ Purple-wattled lapwing (Vanellus indicus). Photograph: Aryan Dhimal

Many of the birds as soon as seen on the banks of main rivers of the capital metropolis comparable to Bagmati and Bishnumati have disappeared with the gradual air pollution of the waters and infrastructure improvement alongside their banks.  It was commonplace in these days to seek out kingfishers perched on the branches of bushes alongside the banks of those rivers. It’s uninhabitable now.

Nepal shouldn’t be solely well-known for the wildlife discovered right here but in addition its migratory guests. Ornithologists from world wide come right here to look at wintering birds in locations just like the Koshi Tappu and different our bodies of water. A giant metropolis like Kathmandu shouldn’t be a spot for chook watching, however I used to be by chance drawn to the stated birds.  

Regardless of the gradual disappearance of a few of these birds, we nonetheless see pigeons, crows, and home sparrow in our localities–birds no person would even trouble to throw a cursory look at. What me in these birds was their adaptation to the city setting.  

Photograph: Sarad Shrestha/Unsplash

Human-like traits

Once I began watching these birds, I not solely seen their capability to deal with the change but in addition noticed a sure behavioural sample in them which could possibly be likened to human traits.  

We feed these birds on the flat roof of our home. It’s however pure for the neighbouring birds to affiliate us with meals and be there on the feeding time. We often maintain our third-floor east-facing kitchen door open. Every time some persistent pigeons see us within the kitchen, they merely linger on for extra meals. I seen each meals competitors and tolerance in these birds– with some occasional aggressive behaviours.     

As soon as I used to be sitting on the veranda of my pal’s home and admiring the good method with which he had used the small piece of land by planting bushes. Then, a phisto appeared on a tree and began singing. I questioned how a small chook like that would produce such a sonorous sound and sing so fantastically.  Out of the blue, out of nowhere, there got here a bunch of noisy sparrows, chirping loudly – as if an pressing assembly was referred to as and all board members began speaking on the identical time–in regards to the intrusion of an outsider. 

And, there may be this round-shaped sparrow that chirps and makes itself seen by flying from side to side after we are a little bit late in feeding them, or when it needs meals in between the feeding time. This sparrow appears to be the consultant of different sparrows of his group.

Whereas a few of these birds are daring and daring, most of them are shy and distrusting –and keep distance whereas feeding. This reveals in addition they have particular person variations in them.

Persistent pays                                            

Compared to different birds, I discovered crows very intelligent and effectively tailored to their environment. We feed them small items of kneaded flour, however they’re all the time able to attempt most of what we eat and provides them. The 2 or three crows that frequent our place perch on the railing of the kitchen balcony look inside and caw–for meals.  I used to be amazed to seek out the crows checking and tasting the meals earlier than consuming it. It was additionally astounding to see the crow holding the morsel of meals in its beak and taking a look at us and never flying immediately–as if pausing to say thanks.

Of the three stated crows, one is daring and really demanding and even takes meals from fingers. Every time it needs meals, it simply reveals up on the balcony railing and caws quickly (as whether it is in a terrific hurry) till we give it one thing to eat. Slightly than listening to its steady cawing, we oblige.

It’s good to see the adaption of those birds to the city setting. And, I feel I’ve additionally realized a couple of issues from watching them.

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