For many of us living in concrete jungles, waking up to the twitter of sparrows and a gust of cool breeze seems like a distant dream.
But this is not the case for Pune’s Chandan Nagar resident Smita Pasalkar.
Many would call her “lucky” for being able to start her day with a cup of chai and a balcony abuzz with parrots, sunbirds, sparrows and even squirrels.
Neighbours who have lived in the same society for 20 years say this is the first time they’re witnessing such a sight. Parrots were almost a rarity here.
It all started six years ago when the fashion designer had just moved into this apartment. Though she was content with the location and the decor, there was something missing — birds.
A bird lover by heart
“When I was a child, I would watch my father always keep feed and water for the birds in our garden,” she tells The Better India, adding that the birds fly to the balcony, eat their fill, and even stay on for more.
Growing up watching this sight, Smita came to love birds and the happiness they brought into the space they flew into. She decided she would always continue to feed them, no matter where she went.
So when she shifted apartments, she was intent on creating a space where the birds could come and eat and fly.
But she would soon realise that birds weren’t very common in the area.
“There were no parrots to be seen, or for that matter, any birds at all,” she says, adding that she started planting saplings in the balcony to attract the creatures.
Her strategy soon worked and in time, birds began to fill the balcony space, jostling each other to get their share of the water and grains that were kept in a bowl by Smita.
As the number of birds increased, Smita decided to set up feeders so birds would never go hungry. She set up seven feeders along the balcony and grew plants to create a natural environment.
Smita made the feeders herself using bamboo she procured from the village. In them, she fills sunflower seeds, rice, groundnuts, etc.
“I purchase around 50 kg of rice a month to feed the birds,” she says, adding that once she started, many others in her society also began feeding birds. Who doesn’t want a balcony filled with birdsong?
A flock of parrots
What amazed Smita and her neighbours was that even though parrot sightings are rare in their area, the large number visiting her balcony would claim otherwise.
“From one, it soon grew to three, four, and then many,” she says, adding that she set up feeders for parrots separately to attract more of them to the balcony.
Due to lack of space, Smita says, she hasn’t been able to plant fruits for the birds. But she has planted many flowers for the sunbird.
People love the idea of what Smita does and frequently reach out with queries and seek information through the videos she puts up on social media.
“I devote two hours every day to the cause of feeding the birds. I do this once I complete my household chores. It is an integral part of my everyday routine,” she says.
Make your own bamboo bird feeder like Smita:
Step 1: Take a piece of bamboo with a diameter of around 8 cm.
Step 2: Cut the bamboo into a piece measuring around 30 cm, and then into two halves. You can either use a saw or knife to do this.
Step 3: Smoothen the frayed edges with sandpaper for a finished look.
Step 4: For the half that will serve as the top of the bird feeder, drill holes on the extremes, one hole per extreme. For the half that will serve as the bottom, drill two holes at each edge, thus drilling four holes in the bottom feeder.
Step 5: The next step is threading the halves. Loop the rope through the two bottom holes and then after around 10 cm knot it through the top hole of that side. Repeat this on the other side.
Step 6: Now on both sides, you can tie the rope to the roof. Your bamboo feeder is ready!
Read the entire story in Hindi, here.