On a winter morning in 2004, Chennai-based Joseph Sekar noticed five weary parakeets on his terrace in Triplicane, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city.
Today, these five parakeets have been joined by thousands more — 8,000 to be exact — thanks to Sekar, who uses 40 per cent of his monthly income to feed them at the same spot every day.
“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, a camera repairman and electrician, told The Better India.
While locals fondly call Sekar the ‘Birdman of Chennai’, his terrace has also become a tourist hub from visitors across the world. At times, they’ve offered to contribute towards his noble endeavour, but he’s always politely declined. “I will never take a loan or accept money to feed my kids,” he said.