Its a Barbet !

I had a special guest at home yesterday. It was an injured bird, one I picked up from the road while returning from my morning walk. She was lying near a transformer, by the pavement as if she had an electric shock. Her heart was beating pretty fast and the body was undergoing convulsions like an epilepsy patient. I searched the body for injuries and could not find any. She looked like a survivor and I decided to bring her home.

I put her inside my jacket pocket as she was shivering. By the time I walked back home, her heartbeat had slowed down to perhaps a 100-120 per minute. Still she wasn't able to keep her eyes open for long or stand up on her legs. I wrapped her in a T-shirt and kept on the kitchen slab. She was quiet, never protested and seemed to be liking the warmth. It was then that I noticed how beautiful a creature she is.

She was about 30cm from head to tail with shiny green and brown feathers. She had a stout, pink colored beak with whiskers all around it. I later found out that she is a 'Brown-headed Barbet' (Megalaima zeylanica), a very common bird in South India. I have seen them a lot around my home in Kerala. They were co-culprits with the bats in eating away all the guavas and mangoes. The green and brown feathers provide excellent camouflage and these guys are pretty difficult to locate once they are up on the trees, though they have a long and interesting call.

So I left the barbet girl to her comforts and left for office. I had kept some water and food nearby, in case she felt like eating. I also kept the windows open, did not want to keep her inside once she could fly. I knew her world is not made of walls and windows, she had fine blue skies and cool green trees in hers. When I returned from office in the evening, I thought she would have flown away, but to my surprise I found her sitting on the window pane. The T-Shirt which I used to wrap her was there on the floor, with two green feathers on top.

The windows were open, but she was inside. She flew across the room as if to show me that she is back in action. I couldn't understand why she did not fly away when she could.. did she want to say goodbye or something? I was amazed at the thought.. a bird having the decency to stay back and say thank you? ...unlike many others who walk out of life without warning, grabbing a 'better opportunity'. Truth is that she could see another wall outside the open windows and not the open skies. She would have thought that the world outside the window is just another cage. As she sat on the side shelf, I picked her up once again, opened the door and released her.

She made a shrieking sound in delight and flew away to the nearby tree. I noticed that the wails of ecstasy sounds so much like the screams of torture!

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