Humans, the most evolved species on earth, have always been loving other animals and birds. Petting has been a practice in almost every civilization, be there our necessity to pet animals or be just a pure affection, we love to pet even today. But when it comes to petting birds, we cage them. We want them before our eyes always and thus we snatch their basic right to fly. Is this petting really worth it? Is that our love for birds? Today we have brought you the story of a bird lover, birdwatcher Radhika Sonawane who has pet around 30 parrots and some other birds but not in any cage. They visit her balcony every day. She loves them, they love her as well. Stay around and read further about this mind-blowing story.
About Radhika Sonawane
Radhika Sonawane is an Assistant Manager at SBI Mutual Funds. Originally from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, she currently lives in Pune. She has been a bird lover since her very childhood. This hardworking, independent young lady was stuck in her rented apartment in Pune during the first nationwide lockdown. With no friends and family around and staying inside for many days, Radhika found her childhood hobby to be useful.
Befriending the Birds
As stated earlier, Radhika has always been a bird lover. She saw, one of her neighbours has installed bird feeders in her balcony and many birds would come to her. Inspired by her neighbour, Radhika bought some bird feeders. Her neighbour taught Radhika about how to attract birds. She studied specifically about what to feed to each bird, like Parrots love peanuts while bulbul loves banana. There also has to be a demarcation between the shapes of feeder pots as well. Parrots have a larger beak, thus they need bigger feeders. Bulbul, sparrow etc. need particularly smaller feeders. That’s the first thing to attract the bird, she says. They primarily look for food. Therefore, feeding them is the first step to befriend them.
Another important thing to attract the birds, is altitude. She lives at the top floor of a 4 story building. Altitude of around 3 to 4 floors is comfortable enough for most of the birds out there. Her location was perfect to attract the birds, we can say.
Interaction with Birds
Birds are afraid of humans as we all know. It’s a hard task to win their trust. Primarily they seek food. Parrots and Bulbul are the best interactive birds. They talk with us. They nod their heads as we talk. Some parrots even come closer and let us pet them. Bulbul, on the other hand, is a singer bird. It loves banana chops. Radhika said Bulbul gets excited to see its favourite food and starts singing before eating. Tailor bird is also one of such kinds which gets excited and sings if we keep some cotton for it. Yes, tailor bird seeks only cotton to build nest.
Crow, despite being a very hated or disguised bird, seems to be very gentle. Crows, Sparrows, Parrots, Bulbul are very lovely birds with little to none harm for us. Pigeons on the other hand are very aggressive specie of birds. Their eating habits are too wild, said Radhika. They also don’t let others eat.
Upon asking if birds understand our emotions, Radhika answered that they don’t. Most they can do is that they talk with us. They aren’t like dogs. Probably emotional bonding is not a thing a bird should have. A Bird’s fate is to fly around different locations, it should not get attached to a place or a person.
Types of Radhika’s Bird-Friends
Majority of Radhika’s Bird-Friends are parrots. In parrots, there are generally 2 types – Alexandrian Parrots and Indian Ringneck
Apart from parrots, Sunbird, Weaver Bird, Crows, Sparrows, Pigeons also visit her daily. Some of the birds are seasonal. They fly away after 2-3 months and never come back.
Extinction of Birds
Radhika has a good insight and a very deep concern about extinction of birds out there. It is true to some extent, that birds are losing their navigation sight because of excessive radio waves created by mobile network towers; However, the primary reasons are pollution and climate change. A full pack of birds keep changing their locations between continents. Many a times they become victims of drought, heavy rainfall, acidic rains, wildfires, etc. Amongst her bird-friends, Alexandrian Parrots and sparrows are about to be extinct, Radhika said. The consequences of this extinction are already visible. Birds help in forestation so much that it is very hard for humans to catch up to that, especially when our deforestation rate is higher than that of planting trees. Another thing birds do, is that they eat the insects which damage the crops. With excessive use of pesticides, we have made the crops poisonous for both the birds and us. The task is to save the birds along with trees. How do we ensure that? Let us have a better perspective.
Save the Birds
There are multiple NGOs and trusts committed to research and preservation of birds, but they surely lack public support. We are very animal friendly when it comes to dogs, cats, cows, etc., but we do need to have some empathy and effort for preserving birds as well. India has been a land where the belief of co-existence is considered godly. We just need to embrace those ancient teachings of “Sarvepi Sukhinah Santu”. As I write this blog, there is Pitru-Paksha i.e. fortnight to remember ancestors going here in India. There is a ritual to feed crows in this fortnight. In her own words, read what Radhika has to say about it –
“Have you ever planted Peepal or Banyan trees or seen anyone planting them? Do you ever find peepal or banyan seeds? Your answer will mostly be no. The reason behind this is that the nature has made a separate arrangement for planting these two useful trees. The crows eats fruits, called Goda, of these two trees and the seeds of these two trees are processed in their stomachs. Then the seeds are worth growing. After that, both these trees grow where the crows give excreta.
Peepal is the only tree in the world that emits oxygen 24 hours and banyan has many medicinal properties that are too much to be described in short. If you want to grow both of them, then it is not possible without the help of crows, so the crows have to be saved. But how would this be possible? The female crow lays eggs in the month of Bhado (August-September) and newborns are born. Children of this new generation should get nutritious and rich food. Therefore our sages and monks arranged nutritious food for the newborn crows in the form of Shraddh so that the new generation of crows can be nurtured. Our rushi-munis were too clever. By knowing the fact that for human wellbeing these two trees are most important to save these trees they started to feed nutritional diet giving ritual to crows. And this tradition is based on enviornmental facts.”
Positive Changes in Radhika’s Life
Radhika said she has very few friends and she often used to be lonely in her apartment. Birds visit her and she feels immense positivity around them. Apart from this, Radhika’s unique friendship with birds has become an internet sensation. From having telecasted her story on electronic news media like Times Now, India Today, Times of India, and at least a dozen more, to getting some foreign media attention as well, Radhika’s life has drastically changed in the last few months.
Some people also demanded to have a parrot captured so that they can cage it, but she straightaway denied such demands. She has also started making reels on Instagram showcasing various actions of these birds. Despite becoming an internet sensation, Radhika is very down to earth. She invited our team to her apartment. I personally went with my friend Mayuri on a fine morning of October 2nd, 2021. We were overwhelmed to see the birds coming to balcony and interacting in large numbers.
Radhika Shows Path
Not a tough job when we start celebrating to save the lives of birds right? We definitely need people like Radhika to show us a path. Radhika is just a common lady having concern and love for birds. Can’t we learn to plant trees and keep bird feeders in our balcony? It is important for our coming generations, else our future kids might have to see the birds only in sanctuaries. Thus, pet them, and pet them without cage!
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