The Telegraph
Friday , February 17 , 2017

Feathered, friendly & feisty

A child casts a loving gaze at a Violet Turaco. (Above) Emus in their enclosure. Pictures by Shubham Paul

BJ Park hosted a three-day festival in the name of nature and culture last week and the star attraction was exotic birds. 
The event was organised by Ward 29 of Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation and for the inauguration on February 10, director-general of police Surajit Kar Purkayastha, commissioner of Bidhannagar City Police Gyanwant Singh and actress Mimi Chakraborty had come down. Mayor Sovan Chatterjee and actor Soham dropped by later in the day. 

A green corner had been put up with flowers and vegetables and residents performed cultural programmes. “We’ve taken this initiative so residents get a feel of nature in the midst of city life and experience the culture of Bengal,” said local councillor and chairperson of the corporation, Krishna Chakraborty. 

Love bites

The bird show, courtesy All Bengal Bird Lover’s Organisation, was held in an enclosure in the park. The smaller birds were in cages but the big Macaws and Cockatoos stood on stands in an open space in the middle.  

“They’re trained and won’t fly away,” said Bapai Sen, secretary of the organisation who is also a Durga puja theme maker. “From March, I shall get busy with Puja work but till then I can indulge in my other passion — birds.”
Visitors queued up to click pictures with the winged beauties even as a member of the group, Siju Sapui, scolded a Macaw: “Ei, kamrabi na!” Another Macaw, Romeo, had already bitten his keeper, Suvojit Nandan (picture above).

“He’s jealous as I’ve been petting other birds today,” grimaced Suvojit, rolling up his sleeve to examine the purple bite mark on his arm. “Romeo is naughty with me but would never bite anyone else.”

Then there was Rancho, a two-year-old Cockatoo who apparently does not even know how to bite. “He’s so loving that he’s usually covered by lipstick marks of visitors who kiss him,” said Suvojit.

Susmita Mondal, a visitor from BJ Block (picture below), got clicked with three birds resting on her hands and shoulders. “Their claws are sharp and dug into my skin somewhat but I don’t mind it,” said the girl who has just completed her BA.
Those like Sukumar Maity of Baisakhi tried whistling at the birds to make them whistle or speak but that didn’t happen. 

Big and beautiful 

Among the smaller birds were Violet Turaco, Pouter Pigeons and Finches. The finches Subrata Sardar had got were no taller than two inches but cost nearly Rs 30,000 a pair. “They are delicate too. When I got them to this show I had wrapped their cages with cloth so they don’t catch a cold,” said Sardar. “And I’ll ensure a steady supply of seeds and water for them all day.”

The largest birds at the show, the emus, had a separate enclosure to themselves. “They like to run about,” said Siju about the birds that can run at nearly 50kmph. “They live in a farm near Kasba and I had a tough time catching them this morning and bringing here. They camouflage themselves in the fields too so it’s difficult to spot them.”

Milan Das, another member, said the birds eat four to five buckets of rice and vegetables a day. “Emus are even being farmed in Canning these days. Their meat sells at Rs 1,200 a kilo,” he said. 

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