Lockdown Made These Young Boys- Arvin Leon D’ Costa, IX Std, and Allan Neethan D’Costa, V Std, both studying at Mount Carmel Central School, Mary Hill, Mangaluru, to Become Budding Birders
Mangaluru: The COVID-19 outbreak has drastically altered daily life. For millions of students and parents, that means homeschooling. Social distancing is a necessary and effective measure to keep us safe, but it also commands widespread school closures, which can make for a challenging transition for many children. Home from school, many children are feeling anxious about the future, unsure of how to help. For many climate-minded young people, the feeling is familiar. They’re already concerned about the Earth’s future in the face of climate change — now the pandemic is compounding these emotions.
Fortunately, many inspirational kids are also leading the fight for a greener planet and safer future. Young people around the world have the power to make a difference, even from their homes. Some at-home activities that students have opted to beat boredom, staying positive and creating a climate-friendly future are- Attending or hosting a virtual teach-in; Downloading the Earth Challenge app; Trying some delicious plant-based cuisine, with the help of their mothers in the kitchen (My neighbour’s nine-year-old daughter made some delicious cake with all veg ingredients, including veggies and fruits-Yummy)
In addition to mastering new recipes, students have also learnt food preservation techniques, such as canning, pickling, drying and freezing to enjoy fruits and vegetables year-round and minimize food waste. Also, students have been working to cut down on plastic pollution; Learning new ways to protect our species Many children have been watching environmental documentaries or animal shows and learning how individuals can help protect endangered species; Some have Created eco-art. Creating art is an excellent way to spend time indoors and still connect to the Earth. Creating art is also a great way to get outdoors while practising social distancing. Parents have been supervising their children as they gather items like leaves and pine cones from their backyard or apartment compound and create an innovative art project.
While you’re outdoors, encourage children to pay attention to nature and wildlife, many have written short stories or poems about what a bird sees as it flies or what a squirrel thinks about as it climbs trees etc, and have contributed for publication in Mangalorean.com. Among all these active and energetic young students who are stuck at home due to lockdown but have kept themselves busy with their unique home projects and hobbies, here we have two local boys Arvin Leon D’ Costa, IX Std, and Allan Neethan D Costa, V Std, both studying at Mount Carmel Central School, Mary Hill, Mangaluru, who have started a project taking care and feeding various species of birds. They are the sons of Lancy D’Costa, who is employed as Assistant Manager (Finance Dept.) KIOCL, Panambur-Mangalore and Mrs Nimitha Rita Pereira, who is a teacher at St Gerosa High School Jeppu, Mangaluru, and live in Mally Layout, Gandhinagar, Kavoor, Mangaluru.
These two brothers, when they found out that the birds needed water and shade during summertime, decided to do something for these birds. With the help and support from their parents, they went ahead in making four to five bird cages using the wrapping sheets of bedding/mattresses to give comfort for the birds and also for them to lay eggs, and also arranged a few bowls with water to quench the thirst of the birds. And to the boys’ surprise, their unique project worked, where hundreds of birds of different varieties come and make use of the birdcages and drinking water bowls.
Watching the different kinds of birds visiting their house, Arvin and Allan spent hours capturing the photos of the birds and did some thorough browsing on the Internet to find the names of the birds. According to them, the birds which come to their house daily are- Munia, Sparrow, Bulbul, water hen, Great Indian Oriole, Greater Coucal(Kupul), Cuckoo(Kogile), Ashy Prinia, Oriental magpie-robin (madivala), Jungle Babbler, among others. They feed the birds with Pearl Millets( Bajra), rice, Foxtail Millet’s (Navane), and water kept on the window and compound wall.
As the city plunges into silence in this lockdown period, people are waking up to bird songs and their chirpy chatter. With normal daily routines upended, many are discovering the joys of spotting birds and identifying them by their trills and tweets. And these two brothers also did the same by watching the birds, learning more about them and identifying them. It should be noted that the lockdown has reduced the human distance observed by the birds. Deserted roads mean lesser air and noise pollution. No doubt that it’s the lack of food that drove birds away from us. But it is nice to know that young children like Arvin and Allan have come to the rescue of such birds which are looking for food and water when most eatery places and restaurants are now closed during the lockdown.
“We have been residing here for quite a long time, but I’ve never come across so many birds of different varieties. One of my favourite pastimes during the lockdown these days is to watch these birds and do the needful for them. It has been such a joy to have these birds make a comeback to our neighbourhood. The lockdown has increased the sparrow count in the city, and our area in Kavoor has come alive with the symphony of sparrows ” said Arvin. But as much as the bird lovers are thrilled to be enjoying this return of birds, they are also concerned that once the lockdown is lifted, the birds will once more retreat from our lives. “A one-day lockdown every week should be made mandatory. That will not only reduce pollution but will also bring back the harmony humans once shared with nature,” suggests Lancy, the boys’ dad.
Just like how these two boys take care of the birds during the lockdown and will take care of them post lockdown, others should also follow in the footsteps of Arvin and Allan, and start a hobby of taking care and feeding the birds. Put as many bowls of water at convenient places, especially during summers. You would be surprised by the number of creatures that would benefit from this simple gesture. It quenches the thirst of thousands of creatures, big and small – from dogs and cats to birds, ants, wasps, bees and even snails. Spread grains like rice, bajra, channa, etc. on your rooftops or open balconies for the starving birds.
Many of us during lockdown are spending most of our time in our home to help flatten the curve. Life is slower at the moment. We don’t rush around to play cricket or basketball. There’s more time to watch what’s happening through the window or up in the trees. Now, when we do leave the house, it’s for a quick walk, scoot, or bike around the neighbourhood. As our world responds to the coronavirus pandemic, birding, it turns out, is the perfect kid-friendly quarantine activity. Seeking out birds helps children sharpen their observational powers, get them away from screens and smartphones. Watching birds will show both the parents and their children that even during a pandemic, new life will hatch. And we may even have time to see it.
COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we sometimes have to change the way we do things. Going forward, that mindset should also apply to the way we treat birds. Those exploited in the pet trade don’t deserve to be kidnapped and forced into an existence in which they’re deprived of everything that could give their life meaning. And chickens, ducks, turkeys, and other birds farmed for food should be left in peace, too, not sentenced to a life of misery and an agonizing death just for a fleeting meal. This year, during the pandemic and post-pandemic pledge to do something that will make a positive difference for our feathered friends. And kudos to Arvin and Allan for showing their love and concern towards the birds and making them do happy chirping.