The evening that followed the afternoon blaze was surprisingly balmy; the spot of gentle breeze flowing in from the grasslands of Aarey perhaps being one reason, and the whiff of strong fragrance of the Copperpod flowers only accentuated the feeling of benign calm. But in that late hour just before dusk the usual gang of RP girls (five female Rose-ringed Parakeets) refused to pay heed to the beauteous golden-yellow flower-laden Copperpod tree – as they were wont to even four weeks into the flowering season – remaining content with swinging either from the swaying fronds of the coconut palm right next to it, or if bored, from the overhead cables cutting across the garden between the high-rises in the complex, squawking at and bickering with no one in particular.
And then, as if sent deliberately to break the monotony of my routine vigilance of these rowdy lasses, a lone female Alexandrine Parakeet (AP) flapped in and landed awkwardly on the Copperpod tree. She wasted no time in beginning to pluck the flowers one by one, biting into the base of each one, apparently sucking at the nectaries and having emptied it of the juices, dropping it to the ground dismissively. I yet wonder what surprised the RP girls more – the audacity of the AP female to infringe upon their self-proclaimed fiefdom, or the sudden discovery of a value for the flowers that they had disinterestedly neglected until then. But within minutes there was an uproar, with a couple of the RP girls – probably elected members of some higher council – shrieking out orders to the other three – plausibly unlucky ordinary electing members – to retake their territory.
And so, in came the three RPs outflanking the AP, who had no choice but to take off for safer avenues, the RPs following up in its wake probably wanting to see it safely past their territorial border. Meanwhile, the two commanding RPs had already started dismantling the golden-yellow flowers one by one, likely rueing the missed delicacies for the weeks past. And since that day the RP ladies can rarely be seen swinging on the palm fronds – you will more likely see them relieving the suddenly inviting Copperpod flowers of their divine ambrosia!
[Featuring: Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria) and Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), adult females; Copperpod Tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum), Mumbai.
I have uploaded on FB and Instagram, a video of one of the RPs in action.]
– Narendra Nayak © 2020