Friday, September 4, 2009

Microwaves and the birds.

On P114. Lucky climbed up the staircase to the top of Malabar Hill. She paused in the shade of the Pipal tree to watch a small, brightly coloured bird perched on a limb. The bird was tiny like a sparrow, brown with a long orange beak, a splash of white on its chest and bright blue and black markings on its wings.

Despite being a truly urban space, Mumbai used to have a substantial bird population. Malabar Hill was in fact home to several exotic Indian Peacocks that would come flying into the gardens of nearby homes , dancing merrily in the misty drizzle .

A few years ago, though, flycatchers and sparrows almost disappeared from Mumbai's skies and the only birds we could see were the ugly House Crow. This fall in small bird population was not due to the depleting green cover as one would imagine, but strangely enough attributable to the microwaves in the sky! It seems that these poor birds had not yet figured how to avoid these waves and were literally falling out of the sky, stunned to death. Of course, I can't vouch for the veracity of this fact but this was the reason given by ornithologists.

Since then, the number of mobile operators in this city have not diminished but the bird population has increased. Perhaps the sparrows have learnt to dodge the waves after all!

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