Essay: On my feathered friends

Close your eyes and listen to the seems all-around you. What do you listen to? Can you listen to the birds? If you cannot, image a chicken in entrance of you. Picture you can see two birds, a few birds, four birds. Consider a group of birds sitting down with each other. What do you see? You are likely imagining a pigeon, a crow or a myna and thinking of the sounds they make. What if I advised you to think about a rufous treepie, a magpie robin, a brown headed barbet, a kingfisher or a sunbird? Now, you are in all probability picturing by yourself in a hen sanctuary. What if I told you to think about all these birds perched on trees in a South Delhi neighbourhood? What if I told you that these birds are all around, even if you really do not always recognize them? All you require to do is open your eyes and seem. Our feathered mates are ready to be found.

A rosy pelican (Prerna Jain)

I began photography at the tender age of virtually 50. So I was in a hurry I had to understand anything and make up for all the many years I had skipped. I was enamoured by shots of beautiful hen, in particular kinds of birds in flight. I began to wake up early every single early morning and go to my terrace ahead of any one else stirred in the residence. I needed to observe birds and photograph them. I was astonished by the many species of birds that frequented my household in South Delhi, throughout the seasons and at several situations of the day. I took as several pictures as I could and invested the working day enhancing them on my laptop. I had totally no strategy what these lovely birds ended up known as. I clicked a rufous treepie perched on the satellite dish on my terrace and labelled it, ‘the mustard hen with a prolonged tail’. A photograph of silverbills was named, ‘sparrows with a shiny beak’. Now, right after a 10 years of photographing these attractive creatures and clicking extra than 40 species from the terrace of my house by yourself, I have taught myself their genuine names. My camera has opened my eyes to a brand name new earth all-around me.

Most men and women imagine pigeons, crows and mynas are dull and common. They complain about how they soiled our terraces, our balconies and our community areas and about the sound they make. I wish they could see the attractive eyes of the widespread myna like I do via my camera lens. They would find them a large amount more attention-grabbing then. Which is not to say birds aren’t noisy they are my all-natural alarms. On most days, they wake me up by knocking on my window glass. I like to feel that they want me to appear out and just take a photograph of them when they are however hunting their finest, early in the morning. I have even learnt to value pigeon poop even though that is a consequence of my other passion – gardening. Good pigeon poop, although disagreeable to look at, is an excellent fertiliser and a resource of phosphorous for my crops.

A jungle babbler (Prerna Jain)

Looking at factors through my digital camera lens has specified me a superpower. I suddenly see so significantly a lot more than just the greys, the blacks and the browns. I see the vivid purple of the sunbirds, the vivid environmentally friendly of the brown-headed barbet, the bright blue of the kingfishers, the golden yellow of the oriole – colours I surprise how I skipped earlier, primarily when they were being perched on trees and electric powered wires all all over me. These birds come in diverse measurements. Some are modest plenty of to match in my palm, some are even bigger than a football, some others are even larger still. At the time I commenced seriously looking at birds, I started out listening to them far too. Mom Mother nature does everything for a purpose. The males of most species have sweeter voices than the girls. In most scenarios, they have brighter colors far too. I realised only a short while ago that a bird’s visual appeal and colour can improve with the seasons. Its plumage in the course of the mating period is significantly much more vibrant and beautiful than it is during the relaxation of the yr. I have been witness to various younger suitors attempting to lure possible associates by demonstrating off their dancing skills and supplying them superior meals, ordinarily with great accomplishment (not not like us human beings). One particular morning, as I was admiring a dazzling eco-friendly brown headed barbet perched on a tree, a different one particular arrived with an orange fruit in its beak. It solemnly gifted the fruit to the other, and the two birds mated.

Brown headed barbets (Prerna Jain)

I have seasoned quite a few sweet and satisfying times with different birds in the training course of my pictures and would like to share a several of these circumstances as anecdotes. I say anecdotes since some portion stems from my imagination. However, these are genuine representations of my working experience, and I leave it to you to come to a decision no matter whether they ring genuine for you much too.

I do not persuade photographing birds when they are nesting. It disturbs them, which could endanger their eggs or their infants. But what do you do when a family of birds knocks at your doorway and insists on modelling for you? One particular summer time afternoon, I was shocked to see a pair of eyes peeping out from at the rear of a bush in my yard. When I went up for a nearer glimpse, I noticed that a mom peahen and her four lovely chicks had arrive unannounced to my dwelling. They built my backyard garden their household for a week. The seven days when they had been my honoured visitors (and unpaid styles) are amongst the most gorgeous recollections of my everyday living. The minor spouse and children wandered freely close to my property and back garden day to day as I clicked hundreds of shots of them from sunrise to sunset.

A peahen and her chicks (Prerna Jain)

I viewed mother peahen discipline her chicks when they had been naughty. I noticed her protectiveness when she feared that a viewing crow had significantly less than honourable intentions in direction of her infants. I noticed her patiently train them to fly, just one stair at a time. To her credit, it took them only a 7 days to fly up to the balcony on the initial floor. When mom Peahen took her infants under her wings towards the finish of the day, I was reminded of my individual childhood and of my mother shutting all the doors and turning off all the lights in advance of putting myself, my brother and my sister to mattress. The peahen and her family members flew away quickly soon after the chicks learnt to fly, but not prior to they experienced polished off all the tender tomato and spinach crops from my kitchen area back garden. I thought it was a pretty reasonable trade for all the pleasure they experienced brought me through their remain.

A different calendar year and yet another nesting time later on, a yellow footed eco-friendly pigeon created its home on a tree in my backyard. I clicked thousands of shots of the mother, father and the lovable baby chook as they fortunately modelled for me. Unfortunately, only one particular of their numerous eggs survived. I captured their contentment and their scares. The cuddles concerning mama and newborn pigeon, lazy yawns as the baby woke up in the morning, the time a rufous treepie attacked the newborn pigeon. This final incident was frightening for the birds and for me too. Father pigeon seldom went significantly from the nest but on this distinct day, he was nowhere to be found. Nonetheless, mama pigeon took above and a intense fight ensued in between the mild, loving mama and the villainous rufous treepie. I nervously photographed the combat, rooting for her to gain. For a moment it seemed like she was likely to be defeated. I could not hold myself back and stepped in to enable her struggle the villain and chase him absent. In excess of the subsequent few days, mama pigeon held a close observe on her child but from a distance so he had space to mature. Inevitably, just one working day when the baby’s wings have been strong more than enough, the pigeon family members took off and I uncovered the nest empty the future morning when I arrived to stop by.

Dwelling sparrows (Prerna Jain)

Many people today feel that chicken images is just a recreation of tolerance, or a video game of luck. They assume that if you’re at the ideal position at the proper time, you’ll just take a beautiful image as a make a difference of course. When luck and tolerance certainly have a purpose to perform in building a beautiful photograph, there is a large amount much more to it. You need excellent gentle for which you have to have to be awake early – with the birds as they say – and be at a location you know they’ll check out, properly before they get there. In the early morning, not only do you benefit from far better mild and the absence of harsh shadows, but the birds them selves are at their most energetic and you can capture them as they go about their day-to-day activities. The composition of a photograph has to be attention-grabbing, even although the subject is interesting in alone. Technical guidelines this kind of as the rule of thirds and other regulations of composition play as large a job as they do in other genres of photography. The qualifications is crucial as nicely. You just cannot drive a fowl to perch in a unique posture but positioning yourself in a precise posture could support you get a good photograph. As in a human portrait, I like to aim on the hen, and not far too considerably on the track record. I participate in with the depth of field to attain that. Reflections of birds in drinking water, specifically at dawn, can produce surreal consequences. Hen silhouettes are also wonderful. 1 evening, I put in nearly an hour waiting around for the sun’s rays to access a precise level on a tree wherever a pink vented bulbul was perched. The silhouette of the chicken fully altered the landscape I was trying to photograph. I prayed that the chicken would not fly off though I viewed the solar go down bit by bit.

I have been photographing birds for additional than a ten years now. I have liked every instant of this journey and all the destinations it has taken me. It has launched me to black swans in Australia, rheas in the Ibera Wetlands of Argentina, sarus cranes in Bharatpur, flamingoes in Gujarat and even the very widespread jungle babbler in my yard. On this journey, I have made a authentic like for these attractive, pleasant topics. I go on to photograph them since I love them, and not just due to the fact they make an exciting photograph. I like to consider that they share this appreciate, that they get pleasure from posing for me, and that they assume of me as a friend and not a stalker.

Prerna Jain’s e book, ‘My Feathered Friends’, is obtainable on Amazon.