The Scottish House

Author: 
Niranjan Godara

Niranjan Godara attended St. Anslem’s School, Ajmer followed by St. Xavier’s School, Jaipur and Government Higher Secondary School, Ajmer. He graduated in history and obtained a Masters degree in public administration from University of Rajasthan, Jaipur.

Niranjan has represented Rajasthan at various championships at school, at both junior and senior levels. He was part of the Indian basketball team at the 1980 Asian Basketball Confederation Under-18 Championship at Bangkok.

Niranjan is on the cusp of entering his golden sixties, having taken voluntary retirement from government service to enjoy his time with his family, friends and environment. He loves nature, especially birding and wildlife.

Niranjan presently lives at Jaipur with his wife Prerna and other members of his family.

These pictures I took on 08.05.2020. It's of one of the 5 nesting sites of house sparrows at my house.

 
A Scottish sparrow house.

A Scottish sparrow house.

As you can see, the bird house is made of reusable bottle box of a very fine Single Malt Whisky, pure nectar, which slid down my throat giving a feeling of ecstasy & exuberance in the company of my family and friends last winter.

Due to its divinity effect I thought of making every part of the bottle useable. The bottle belly was filled with pure unprocessed honey stored to be relieved of captivity during the coming winter. The box did not get a good treatment at the initial stage as it was ruthlessly punctured to make a hole and then hung on the square metal bar tied with dreadful plastic string.

The box must be wondering why ‘he’ has been given a life sentence for the good deed of protecting the nectar bottle. Times changed for now the bottle lives in captivity and the box is continuing giving protection to the new life that has crept in the form of 3 little fledglings enjoying their Scottish house with loving care from their Mom & Dad. I am sure the box feels happy and satisfied with the punishment. It is now a Scottish House with life brewing in it.

I have been observing this couple’s activity since the time they were dating, followed by courtship thereafter a joint inspection of suitable nesting site and finally laborious task of building the nest in Scottish House.

Once the mummy bird laid 3 tiny eggs she would seldom leave the house except to stretch out to hydrate herself and to feed. The Dad bird would hang around as a devoted lover and guard the house from evil eyes. I also noticed he had friends to support him. At one time the Brahmini Myana, known for stealing sparrows’ eggs, came close to their house. The Dad bird immediately launched a protest. He was heard by Mom bird and she went deep inside the house maintaining silence and hearing the voice of protest. The other sparrows around came together and started nagging the Myana. The intruder had no choice but to leave.

Then one day I could hear the voice of 3 babies talking to their Mom. The Mom and Dad duo took turns in feeding then. When neither parent was in the nest with the babies [that was rather rare] the nest would go in silence as if sleeping. But arrival of parents and the kids would suddenly start yelling at top of their voice with their mouth wide open for food. As the fledglings were deep in the Scottish house I could not see them. The only way I would come to know of their well-being was from their sound for demanding food which becoming stronger and stronger with days passing by.

Seeing their activity every morning, with a cup of tea in my hand, I felt a special bonding with them. Moreover, the Mom and Dad bird had got used to my presence and would continue their daily routine of feeding the brood without fear or threat.

I got so involved that whenever I would hear sparrows yelling in a group I would run from my enclosures to check out if there was any danger to the brood. Many a times it was the same intruder, the Myana. I am sure the Myana doesn't like me anymore and we are now enemies.

A few days later I noticed that the chicks had stepped out of the house and were at the main door of their Scottish house with bulging eyes, soft beak with yellow lipstick from upper mandible to the lower on both sides. Seeing my presence, I wonder how they could sense danger as the eyes didn't seem to have opened yet, they would duck in. There was certainly a constant communication between the Mom, Dad and the chicks with different pitch and notes of sound indicating presence of stranger, danger and demand of food, if only it could be deciphered.

The day I took this picture the babies were being fed with full millet grain picked by the parents from the bird feeder in the garden. The parents would also search for small insects as protein diet for the growing babies. They would also fly to the road side to pick small particles of sand, much needed for grinding the food, for quick digestion. The chicks had enough strength to bring their necks out of the box. Their head, wings, neck, breast and back along with the tail are having baby soft feathers. I sometimes fear they may fall out of their house and it would be a task for me to do parenting to them.

To my surprise today morning, continuing my daily routine of tea with the extended family, I noticed only one baby in the nest and mom bird busy feeding him/her. I also noticed that the Dad bird was missing. For a moment I thought an early morning a predator, probably a house crow visited the brood and managed to take away two missing babies.

After breakfast, I went around searching, in and around, the garden and trees for two missing babies and the Dad sparrow.

 
A bird's eye view of the garden.

A bird's eye view of the garden.

My eyes felt delighted and felt a great sense of relief when I noticed the Dad bird with the missing babies on the custard apple tree, in our garden, busy feeding them. The third baby seemed to be a weakling and thus needed more of mother's care before gaining strength and confidence to face the world.

My duty is still not over. There is Cindy the Cat with a mole on upper lip, no less than Cindy Crawford, visiting our garden looking for easy prey. I stand guard against her.

 
Cindy the Cat

Cindy the Cat

I am aware that the Scottish House will be vacated in a day or two and will remain still till the next season awaiting arrival of a new lovey-dovey couple. Until then the bottle will be caged, belly full, for another few months.

 
Prerna and Niranjan Godara

Prerna and Niranjan Godara

Comments

Well you saw everything and made us part of this moment, thank you

An amazing personality with great taste and intellect. Niranjan ji has an eye for all things great and an expert of wildlife.
The story is beautifully written and more beautifully captured in the pictures 👍😊

Niranjan, kudos to you for such a beautiful journey of house sparrows well expressed. Their simple activities are so intricately woven in words. Literally one can visualise it. Niranjan you and Prerna are blessed with talent to express nature & wilderness amazingly. Being an ardent nature and wildlife fan myself , just love go through your writings and pictures. Looking forward to reading more stories from you .

True love for wildlife. Well penned.

Beautifully narrated ... made an interesting article

Love the writing style!

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