‘It was a challenge to feed the birds during the rains, but it was equally fulfilling’

How flocks of parakeets turned to the Birdman for help during Chennai floodsImage:From Birdman's terrace during the rains
news Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 20:20

He is popularly known as the Chennai’s ‘Birdman’ and when floods ravaged the city, Joseph Sekar’s house literally turned into a relief centre.

A few thousand parakeets in Chennai, who had adopted Joseph Sekar’s house as their pit stop for food and water on regular days, appear to have spread the word among their fellow feathered friends who turned up in even greater numbers.

"For those 10 days the place looked like a relief camp. The parakeets would stay there until evening. We had over 5,000 parakeets taking refuge on the terrace which can at any given time on a normal day house only 3,000 of them. I don't know where they'd go when it got dark but most of them would leave," Sekar told The News Minute.

 

His house was flooded and water was till knee level, but Sekar would put on a raincoat and go up to the terrace twice every day – in the morning and evening – to feed the little feathered creatures.  

“On a normal day I would have to clean the terrace twice after the birds leave as the rice would be spilt on the ground. But during the rains I would have to clean the place at least five times so that the rice did not get washed away,” he said.

When asked how he managed to have enough to rice to feed 5,000 parakeets for so long, Sekar said, "I keep enough stock that would last for a minimum of 10 days. So I was lucky that way. Although was difficult, yet it was fulfilling."

 

While this has not been the first time Sekar's winged pets have taken refuge on his terrace, but this was the longest time they had displayed such a pattern. 

Sekar's compassion towards the birds goes back to the time when the tsunami hit Chennai in December 2004. Sekar, who runs a camera repair shop in Royapettah area in the city, fed two birds that landed on his doorstep a few days after tsunami.Over the years the number grew as high as 5,000, which earned him the name 'Birdman of Chennai'.

More than a decade after tsunami, the city faced another disaster – the Chennai floods. 

"The degree of devastation was greater than what it was in 2004. The whole city came to a standstill and again here we are still talking about human beings. One can't imagine how many animals and birds would have lost their lives," he said.

"While I couldn't step out of the house to see what it really was like in the rest of the city, the birds gave me a good idea about how ruined the city was during the deluge," he added. 

 

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