The Great Babbler Mystery

I call them Angry Birds! They are continually at war with the world, making their views heard with an incessant grating cacophony of sounds. Their beady eyes glint as they stare angrily at you, and their dusty khakhi-brown feathers are always dishevelled, as if they have just emerged from battle!

They are ubiquitous, making their bedraggled group appearance in the garden, on the sun deck, in the wash area and on the window ledges. They make their presence felt with their incessant quibbling and squabbling. In the morning they are busy poking at the lawn before our first cup of tea. In the afternoon they hop around in the verandah and outside the windows, peering through the glass and rapping sharply with their beaks as if to reprimand us for some misdeed. They are the band of vigilantes—sounding a harsh and strident chorus that makes the intruding cat slink away to safety. They fight like fishwives! Screeching, pecking, pulling, merging into a heaving mass of untidy feathers; and emerging with scrawny bare necks that reveal the wounds of war.

They are the Jungle Babblers or the Seven Sisters as they are called in English, and for some reason, Seven Brothers in some Indian languages.

And I wake up with the comfort of starting the day with them.

Until last week….

My angry birds have disappeared en masse!

At first I thought it may be the grey drizzly weather that we have been having after a long, blazing hot and dry summer that was deterring their forays. Then I thought that maybe they had decided to put in a late appearance; I watched for them morning, noon and evening. Not a straggly feather to be seen! I looked at all their haunts, their favourite foraging patches; the bare branches of the tree at the gate and the wires running overhead, but nary a glint of an eye could I see. I thought maybe they have taken off on vacation, but my bird book tells me that they like their home turf and are not likely to wander far.

How can they all vanish? I haven’t a clue!

jungle-babblers-in-Lucknow-India-bird-festival-uttar-pradesh-2 (2)
Missing from action!

Will they reappear soon? I do hope so!

Till then, the great babbler mystery continues!


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