Winning the trust of birds is indeed a fulfilling experience. My mother and I are fond of birds. But we do not like to keep them in a cage. When I was a child, our house had an inner courtyard. Within the courtyard, we grew a few plants and a short flowering tree. This was enough to attract a number of birds like sparrows and robins. Since our dining area was adjacent to the inner courtyard, we were able to watch these birds while having our meals.
Once while having lunch, a robin alighted on one end of our dining table. We were quite surprised at the boldness of the bird. My mother threw a tiny piece of chapatti to it. To our delight, it pecked it and ate it completely. Gradually, this became a daily routine.
A few years later, we had a very memorable experience with a parrot. Since our courtyard had no trees that bore fruits, parrots rarely visited us. But one day, I found a parrot hiding inside the hedge near the garden in front of our house. Small boys from our neighbourhood were pelting stones at it and it was horribly injured.
We shooed away the boys and my father caught the parrot with great difficulty wearing gloves. My mother and I put some turmeric and mustard oil on its wounds. It calmed down after a while as it understood we meant no harm.
There was no cage in our house. However, we managed to prepare a makeshift cage for her. In a few days, she was completely healed. Then, we had to go out of station for two days. We left enough food and water inside the cage before leaving. On coming back, we were startled to see a large number of parrots sitting on the clothesline in the courtyard near our parrot’s cage. On seeing us, they flew away. We understood that it was time to release the parrot. We did so with a heavy heart as we were attached to it.
After a few days, we saw two parrots hovering above our courtyard. I wondered if one of them was the parrot that we fed. I held out a green chilli in my hand. Lo behold! One of the parrots swooped down and picked it. All of us were thrilled to see it back along with its mate.
When we can have such wonderful experiences with birds in natural surroundings, there is really no need to keep them in cages.