There it was, holding itself delicately on a thin, dry twig that peeped out of the otherwise healthy green plant. It was not new to my garden. They are visiting in dozens these days — all of them with their bright yellow beaks and sharp round eyes. Their dark brown bodies stand out against the bright green leaves. Yet, this little myna was different. It was hanging upside down and dangled sweetly for a few seconds before steadying itself and to take refuge in a tree nearby. I smiled.
I have not always been a bird person. Back in the day, when I was in my village, I thought there were only a handful of birds like crows, egrets and some sparrows. I didn’t know that there are birds of different colours until I visited a bird sanctuary. That day something inside me softened. But even on that day I had no idea that they would fly by one day and visit me and open a whole new world for me.
When a square piece of garden patch showed up behind the house I hatched a plan. I bought a little birdbath to lure the feathered friends to my backyard. It was a long stemmed floral bowl with little flowers on the edges. I installed it right in the middle of the garden, filled it with water and waited patiently.
I didn’t have to wait long. The first fella who arrived dunked his little grey head and drank away. A while later, another, smaller, brown one arrived and plonked himself in the middle of the pool. And in a split second he was out, gently shaking his body and drying himself. It was magical and I wanted more.
So, I took the next logical step. I began to feed them — filling up tiny cups with grains and leaving them under the plants. In no time, my garden was bustling with birds. Their loud chirping filled me with cheer and I knew I had fallen in love with them. I watched them, smiled at them and took cute pictures for my Instagram post.
And then one fine day a little dark blue bird chirped away so loudly that I rushed to find out what the hullabaloo was. It was the cutest thing I had set my eyes on. The body glistened in the morning sun and I could not take my eyes off it. The minute it disappeared I rushed to Google to find out what it was and just like that I had become an amateur bird watcher.
Singing through the day
I now see an array of birds — not just in my garden, but all over Dubai. The more I see, the more I know — and yet there is so much more to see and know.
As for my garden, I can see the hoopoes dig up the ground with their long beaks, and the warblers sing through the day. A tiny nest hangs delicately from the tree and a cat prowls nearby. Three mynas have hoisted themselves on the garden wall and are screeching loudly.
I don’t know if they are chatting or sending alarm signals. They flap their wings noisily and disappear. I have to admit, when I compare the mynas to some of the other birds that visit my garden I find that they are not particularly cute.
And yet that day, when I saw the baby myna hanging upside down, the bird instantly put a smile on my face and I cannot stop smiling whenever I think about it.
I don’t know how long these beauties will fly the skies. But I am happy that, at least now, after all these years of my existence, I have finally begun to appreciate and marvel at these winged creatures called birds. And that, my friends, is the story of birds in my backyard.
Sudha Subramanian is an author and freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman.