For the last 15-odd years, Joseph Sekar has seen several ups and downs in his personal and professional life, but there is one thing that has not altered—hosting his ‘green friends’, the parakeets.
Fondly known as ‘Birdman of Chennai’, Sekar, an electrician and camera repairman, feeds thousands of parakeets on a daily basis.
Sekar’s terrace in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Triplicane, Chennai, plays host to almost 8,000 parakeets to be more specific.
The daily intake of these parakeets is around 75 kilos of rice and Sekar spends 40 per cent of his monthly income to purchase his guests their choice of food!
How it all began
It was a fateful morning of 27 December 2004 when Sekar spotted around five parakeets sitting in a corner of his terrace and trying to eat rice.
Chennai had been hit by the world’s deadliest tsunami and even birds were not spared.
“Keeping soaked rice and water for the sparrows is a family tradition. So after I moved to Chennai some three decades ago, I continued the practice. But this was the first time when I saw parakeets coming to my terrace regularly. That was the beginning of my tryst with the beautiful birds. I didn’t even realise when the numbers touched thousands,” Sekar tells The Better India.
A Sight to Behold
“When there is a sea of parakeets, it is a sight to behold. Seeing them eat peacefully gives me immense satisfaction,” says this avid bird-lover.
Every day around 4 AM, Sekar walks up to his terrace and spends about 20 minutes cleaning the place and placing several wooden planks in a step-like formation.
He transfers the soaked rice to a huge container and takes around 5-6 rounds from the kitchen up the stairs to get the rice to the terrace.
He assembles small portions of the grains for each bird and aligns them neatly on the planks. The process takes him another half an hour, “The portions help them eat at their own pace without interfering with their fellow birds. Sometimes, even pigeons come to eat here.”
He follows the same practice in the evening for the second batch of parakeets post work.
Between serving the birds, Sekar mans his shop which is on the ground floor of his house. He caters to his customers till 7 PM and in between breaks, he checks on the birds or cleans the terrace after the ring-necked parakeets leave.
“But there is also this unfortunate problem of incessant honking of the cars in the area. Though the parakeets have become more or less immune to the noise, they still get startled every time there is a honk,” informs Sekar.
Sekar’s house has also found its way in the list of must-visit places for tourists coming from all over the world. After hearing his contributions for the birds, tourists even offer money but he politely turns them down. “They are like my children. I will never take a loan or accept money to feed my kids.”
Sekar’s humble words and awe-inspiring efforts for the parakeets show that peaceful co-existence between birds and humans is possible. We just need to be more accepting and considerate with other species cohabiting this planet with us. Kudos to him for his endeavour!
All images are sourced from Joseph Sekar/Facebook
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)