It was a very worried Mother Bulbul that woke up on a cloudy and windy morning. She had spotted a cat prowling in the garden and knew her little brood was not safe at all. Mother Bulbul had to give flying lessons to her babies today. If she didn’t, disaster would be at her doorstep. All but one of her brood was fully feathered with relatively strong muscles. They did not have much trouble taking to the skies. Except one, she had not grown very well and her muscles too seemed weak.
The garden had become a very cheerful place ever since the red- vented bulbuls moved into the pomegranate tree in the garden. Papa Bulbul would be up at dawn and in search of food for his brood. His chirpy “didudoit, didudoit’ call would wake up everyone.
The nest was quite big, compact and cup shaped. It was built in the fork of a branch, camouflaged by leaves. Externally it was made up of stems, some dead and skeleton leaves and blades of dry grass. Inside, fine grass roots were tightly woven into a lining for the deep cavity.
Mother Bulbul had a plan ready for the flying classes. She knew her baby would be reluctant to fly. She would have to seduce her into it. Mother Bulbul began to feed her baby. Midway through she flew a short distance away from the nest. She made some encouraging sounds from there that sounded like, now that’s a good girl, come and get it.
Baby bulbul wondered why Mother flew away, while she was still eating. But she decided to move closer to her by taking a couple of hops. The third hop saw baby falling to the ground with a soft thud. This is going to be more difficult than I thought, Mother Bulbul said to herself. Now baby would have to hop all the way back to the nest for safety. For the next five minutes Mother Bulbul had to call out continuously to her baby, to keep trying and not give up. Thankfully the baby made it to the safety of a low bougainvillea bush.
The clouds had cleared and the sun was right above, beating down quite hard. Mother Bulbul stopped at the garden tap for a cool drink. The incessant calling had dried her throat completely. For the next two hours Mother Bulbul was hard at work, cajoling, coaxing and sweet-talking her little one to take courage and fly.
The results were slow but sure. The short hops soon became short flights. The excited chatter of Baby Bulbul filled the air, as she felt the wind in her tiny wings. Yes, she could feel the wind carrying her at times. It was a joyous moment. Mother Bulbul couldn’t control her delight. But once back in the nest the baby was reluctant to move out again. Once again Mother Bulbul had to persuade baby to move out. This was the umpteenth time Mother Bulbul was doing this and her patience was wearing thin.
Tiredness ached in every muscle but the lessons were far from done. Sensing the change in her tone Baby Bulbul seemed to say I’m working on it, but I am tired. Tomorrow I will fly really far.
Papa Bulbul had meanwhile planned a special treat to celebrate Baby Bulbul’s successful flying lessons. He had gathered a bunch of juicy berries for the family.
It was a very tired mother and baby that went to bed that night and Papa Bulbul knew it.