‘We play host to sparrows and munias’

It all began a year ago. After fixing a clothesline at the balcony of his house in Velachery, A.R Akhileswaran did not trim the excess portion of the rope, but entwined it and let it rest on one of the nails supporting the clothesline. A week later, a munia took over from where Akhileswaran had left, and tried spiritedly to make a nest out of the entwined rope.

The bird failed in its many attempts. Akhileswaran placed a bamboo nearby, and the bird seemed to understand what was happening.

“Within 10 days, it built a nest in the basket, using fresh blades of grass as construction material. Watching the pair of munias take care of their nestlings would be a feast for the eyes. While one parent bird would feed the nestlings, the other would stay outside and keep watch. They would then exchange their roles,” says A.R. Akhileswaran, a retiree from a private company.

However, that was the first and also the last time the munias used this nest.

“A sparrow took over the nest, driving away one of the munias that tried to stake a claim to it. After the successful campaign, the sparrow pecked away at the nest for nearly three hours to have it cleaned. Now, the nest houses the hatchlings of sparrows. Their nesting habits are similar to those of munias,” says A.N. Geetha, Akhileswaran’s wife and a school teacher.

Akhileswaran and Geetha however continue to play host to the munias, having kept a cardboard box at the portico.

The munias seem to have accepted this generosity; a pair of munias flit in and out of the box. And it is probably a matter of time before they build a nest and raise their young.

The sparrows and munias feel at home here, flying into the hall and kitchen at will, says Akhileswaran.

The couple keep a bowl of water and grains for the birds. Besides the sparrows and munias, crows and pigeons help themselves to it.

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