Thursday, November 15, 2007

FIG-uratively speaking!

Talk about figs, and the most common association that springs to mind is the proverbial fig leaf, our ancestral lingerie. In the bird world, however, figs are the manna that enthrall and enchant. Plant a fig in your backyard, and you invite, by default, a large cross-section of the avian world to your domain. Frugivorous (fruit-eating) birds are drawn to them like a magnet, and several species of birds descend on these trees in fruiting season, resembling hungry guests at a banquet. While in their feeding frenzy, you could tickle their toes, and they wouldn’t notice. Compared to the gusto with which these wild figs are dispatched, our cultivated ‘anjeer’ seems like a bland also-ran.

On our recent trip to the Pench National Park near Nagpur, we were fortunate to come upon a wild fig in full fruiting glory, and the tree was laden with figgin’ Coppersmiths!

A brown-headed Barbet and a red-vented Bulbul joined in the revelry, and we were subjected to unhindered avian gluttony
Is it any wonder, then, that our wise forefathers (where are they?!) revered these fig trees and worshipped them? The banyan and the peepul still stand unharmed amidst the general tree-genocide that humans perpetrate on a daily basis, which makes me think: Can we find, in our religious texts, a tangible link to protecting our forests and their denizens? Maybe that’s the only hope for our conservation efforts, as man seems more susceptible to the fear of the hereafter, today be damned!


Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

Nice pictures! I love the coppersmith barbaret. And interesting to know that they are attracted to the fig trees. Must look out for some. I've seen quite a few of them while walking home from tutions every early morning. But how do you guys get such nice photographs? For me, the birds are either too high up, or they fly away before I click, or mom doesn't allow me to carry the cam all around town.

green indians said...

Thanks for the compliments, Lakshmi.We personally loved the brown-headed barbet pictures, as these birds are very difficult to spot.One needs good photography equipment for good bird pics, such as a good camera with atleast 400mm zoom and above. You get good digital cameras like the Sony DSC H series/Canon S2 series which have 12x zoom, and make good pictures. We now use a nikon digital slr.

narendra shenoy said...

Lovely photograph!

narendra shenoy said...

Wow photos! You're multi-dimensional beings, both of you!

green indians said...

Thanks, naren. We were lucky to get these birds up close, as they were completely mesmerised by the figs.

Rama Bhave said...

you have nice flair for writing and i like your style. barbets are such a common sight in mumbai and the near by country side, but your write up on this regular sightings is also fun to read.