Day 14, for my pair of sparrows, started off as any other during their nest-building effort – routine, with all standard operating procedures firmly in place. But as dusk neared I could sense a difference. Every evening the female would go round the nest checking that all six sides were secure (somehow it reminded me of an airline pilot doing the pre-flight walk around inspection!), before taking off for an unknown destination to roost for the night. But that evening, as I said, was different. As light faded, she sat on top of the nest-box whiling her time away – much of which was spent eyeing me with suspicion as she always does. As dusk fell she entered the nest and I could hear the pitter patter of her tiny feet scrabbling in one corner of the cardboard box and the tap tap of her beak doing some fine adjustments with the interiors. Then quiet descended upon the nest and as she failed to emerge for over a quarter of an hour, it became evident that she had settled down for the night!
And such a scenario held forth only one explanation – she was going to lay her eggs! After a couple of hours, I cautiously held back a small section of the curtain and peeped into the nest from behind the glass window pane. And there she was – looking back straight at me! I hurriedly rearranged the curtain and switched off the living room lights – no further disturbances warranted. Every once a while I could hear muted cheeps from her (maybe she felt some pain laying the eggs?). By midnight all was still and I too called it a day.
I was up at 5 am today, as curious as a fish (can’t say cat – I’m going to use it in the next sentence). It was raining cats (see I used it here!) and dogs, but nothing stirred inside the nest. It was only around 6:00 am, when the male put in an appearance heading straight for the millet seeds (I had a good mind to ask him where he was the whole night), that she peeped out. I could see straight away that the routine was changed – new SOPs had evolved overnight. Neither of them would leave the nest alone, and even if they had to, one would be sitting inside at any given time. It was then that I had the confirmation – the eggs had been laid!
Do not ask me by what subterfuge I took these pictures, but now that I have them, I am not going anywhere near the nest till the babies show up. Not that it will be of much consequence because soon the eggs won’t be visible! Since morning they have been bringing in an assortment of feathers to cover the eggs with, and I am sure that by the time I finish typing this up, the deluge of quills would have ensured complete camouflage. So, until later folks. I expect Independence Day celebrations to begin perhaps a bit earlier this year…
– Narendra Nayak © 2019