Bird Watching

Dancing Jungle babblers

The Dancing Babblers

 -Suhas Kumar

 One of my favourite pastimes is to spy on the birds in my small but lush garden. And on several occasions I have come across some very interesting activities and antics of birds. I am going to tell you about a pair of jungle babblers. This pair of babblers gave me some amusing peek into their world and it was so absorbing and entertaining that I didn't notice that I was getting late for other urgent things awaiting my attention.


(Photo of jungle babblers-Aditya Singh)

 September, 20, 2009- It is around 4 O'clock in the afternoon and as we usually do on a holiday, my camera and me are busy scanning the trees and bushes for some action, when my eyes catch two babblers sitting on the fence of my garden beyond the same lifeless ber tree. They are hopping and babbling, suddenly one of them takes off and sits about 5 feet away from its partner and then both of them begin a frenzied dance – shivering and trembling frantically, picking their sides, partially spreading their wings and closing them instantly - their dance is fast and furious and both birds are dancing in unison as if they are responding to a crescendo from Mozart, though there is no other music except their occasional harsh babble.

 I know it is an act of getting rid of fleas and mites but preening can take such frenetic from, I never knew before today. This dance continues for almost two minutes and then one of them is on the ground, down at the foot of the ber tree and hops to the clay pot that I keep filled with water for the likes of them. This is apparently time to take wet bath – the babbler sits on the rim, waits and then plunges into the pot, comes out and shakes off the water from its wings. This dipping and drying continues for several minutes and then its partner comes down too, they take turns at the bathtub. After a few minutes both of them fly off to sit quite high up in the jamun tree and frolicking from branch to branch they start an unending babble that only the babblers understand. As they vanish behind the leaves, I hurry after my already overdue appointment, happy, as I always become after such encounters for my camera remember to capture these moments and eternize them.

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