By Shatabdi Chakrabarti
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Videographer / Director: Shams Qari
Producer: Haziq Qadri, Ruby Coote
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Parrots, weaver birds, pigeons and crows are some of the species which flock in every morning to the rooftop of Harsukhbhai’s home in Gujarat, India.
Generous Harsukhbhai spends over £1100 every three months to feed these birds on sticks of pearl millets.
Harsukhbhai and his family wake up everyday by 5 am and get busy preparing for their early morning guests, who start arriving in flocks with the first rays of the sun. And they’ve been doing it for 17 years.
He said: “Seventeen years ago, I met with an accident. A friend of mine who had come to visit me at that time, had brought a stick of pearl millet for me to eat. I had hung it outside and noticed that two parrots ate from it.
"Then the next day, five parrots came. Slowly, more and more birds came. So I decided to go buy more of the millet and hang the sticks for the birds,”
And so, Harsukhbhai’s long association with the birds had begun.
Depending on the season of the year, Harsukhbhai can spend over £1100 every three months. To feed this large number of birds, he has even made a special contraption which makes it easier for him to hang out the sticks of pearl millets.
He said: “There are parrots, pigeons, sparrows, crows and weaver birds, which are some of the species that come to feed here. The sparrows come as early as six in the morning and the parrots start flocking by 6.30 am.
"We get around 3000-4000 parrots, 2000 weaver birds, and 4000 sparrows to name a few. Some birds, like the yellow sparrows, come only during the monsoons, ” he says.
A farmer by profession, Harsukhbhai also runs a showroom. Along with juggling work in the fields and the showroom, he also makes small bird shelters which he decorates with beads and glitters to sell to people.
He said: “I sell these shelters and make some extra money which is also used to feed the birds. If someone doesn’t have enough money to buy the shelter, I give it to them for free since they will be used to shelter birds."
These birds come from as far as 50 kilometres away. None of them are caged and they fly back to their nests and the tree tops once they are done with the feeding. Since the birds bring their chicks along as well, the number has kept increasing over the years.
Harsukhbhai said: “My family was sceptical at first, but I couldn’t have done this without their support. Initially no one had thought so many birds would come.
"Today, my family members don’t eat before they have helped me make the arrangements for the feeding of the birds. And they are as involved in the whole preparation as I am."
Believing that having birds flocking to your house is a sign of prosperity, Harsukhbhai says that he has indeed experienced it.
“Seventeen years ago, I didn’t even have a proper house. And today, I have a showroom and a comfortable house where everyone is living happily. So many people come to visit us and remember us. And that’s of course a wonderful thing,”
Harsukhbhai’s son Prakashbhai says that a lot of people have offered monetary help to assist in feeding the birds, but the family doesn’t accept the money.
He said: “Our entire family does this out of choice and not because they have been asked to. Whatever they do, they do it with full sincerity and dedication.
"Since nature has created us, we should also take the responsibility to care for others, and feed these animals and birds, if we can manage."
Neighbours of the family invite their friends for tea and to come and watch the spectacular flocking in the mornings. And the entire household of Harsukhbhai is equal in their love and compassion for these winged creatures.
Harsukhbhai’s daughter-in-law says “Just as we need food to survive, birds do too. And we really cherish doing this for the birds. We feel content. “
Now aiming to work on a similar initiative for India’s National bird, the peacock, Harsukhbhai says, “The fact that these birds come is what pleases me the most.
"The more the birds come, the more I enjoy it.”