Ways in which humans engage with birdsOne of the very foundational phenomena which lies both in Human and Birds is emotion. Well, now some human being on this planet does not recognize that even Birds or any other mammal for that matter do have feelings and emotions. One of the basic reason could be the lack of scientific ‘evidence’. We have the vocal speech to express and communicate and birds do not have it and here the complexity in understanding and so as appreciating their way of communication lies. To solve this puzzle, we need to be a good observer in order to understand the behaviour of Birds who display their emotions through their behaviour or to be precise, their body movements and calls are what expresses them. Well, to appreciate the nature and bits and pieces of it, I think we need to change our language as well, by this I mean, let’s not exclude nature by using ‘them’ for it and rather it should be used as ‘us’ which I think will give a dramatic change in the ways we are connected to the Birds or the whole Nature itself.However, we need to understand what emotions means actually, for me ’emotional’ means, not depending upon a material advantage equalling an emotional attachment (like at feeding time, for instance). Birds will, at times, transfer their attachments to a human when they are raised away from their flock and this is not a transactional attachment but an emotional one! A parrot, even though it may be experiencing some discomfort, will continue following their favourite human around, even to the ends of the earth! To explore this emotional transaction and not merely a materialistic dependency, let’s explore some of the ways in which humans have discovered their relationship with the birds:Religion and BirdsIt is quite fascinating to see how the very same religion comprehends the very same bird at a different place within India and rest of the world differently. For example, Owl in Uttar Pradesh or at least the area I belong to is considered as luck and as sculptures of Goddess Laxmi shows, Owl is her vehicle and so as it stands for the presence of Laxmi Maa. Also, for us, it is luck, wealth and wisdom. However, in Delhi, as I have lived there for 4 years, it came to my knowledge that Owl is considered as the sign of bad luck, unhealthy and foolishness, and goes pretty same in the south as well.While in Bible, Birds are flying all over the holy book, from beginning to end. Pigeon (dove), Vulture, Raven, the rooster, and chicken. are some of the prominent Birds, which can be found across the religion. Like Abrahamic faith, Islam refers to and depicts birds in many forms: protectors, messengers, nutritional sustenance, and symbols of the soul. The importance of these creatures to Islamic Sufism cannot be overstated.11 (Lings, M. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2006. pp. 19-21) Food and BirdsBefore the development of Agriculture i.e. Neolithic revolution2, Birds were among the most vulnerable, yet needy wild animals hunted for food. Chicken is the best example that have been contributing 20%3 of the animal protein eaten by world’s human population in the form of meat and eggs which is why poultry as the major source of food either in domesticated or industrial form has flourished since last four thousand years. The culture has continued since 5000 BC and coming from north-eastern China and ever since it seems to be spread across the world.Other species including ducks, geese, pheasants, guineafowl and turkeys have been significantly commercialized around the world. Less commonly-raised species such as the ostrich are starting to be farmed for their meat, which is low in cholesterol; they have also been kept for their feathers, and for leather from their skin4.Human and Hunting Culture”The paradoxical relationship between flowered, reproductive, social sex and the animalized, thoughtful hunt is an idea conveyed by primate omnivores who are themselves male and female, prey and predator, thinkers on plants and animals. The convergence of love and death produces, not a love of killing, but their shared identity in the cycle of transformation.”—Paul ShepardHunting of birds is as old in practice as hunting mammals itself. As mentioned above, before the development of Agriculture, Hunting was the only way to survive. Ironically, while we are mentioning Birds in our holy book in many different ways including messenger, hope, luck, survival (in case when earth is left with no vegetarian food), we continued to hunt and feed ourselves as some sort of legacy and development in the same culture, it has been industrialized and emerged in the form of trillion of dollars market (including black market) which is now difficult yet possible to hold on. Consequently, birds subjected to greater prehistoric hunting pressure are more likely to have become extinct and hence, hunting contributed significantly to the selective extinction of prehistoric birds5.Bird as National SymbolBirds are symbolized by approximately 104 Nations, many states (don’t have count) in multiple ways such as declaring Birds as National or State Birds or having a national stamp having a Bird on it such as United States of America did with Bald Eagle. There are plenty of National and State Birds given on the reference pages given at footnote6, such as Peacock as Indian National Bird and Sarus Crane as Uttar Pradesh’s State Bird.2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolithic_revolution 3https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birds_in_culture#cite_note-Poultry-108 4http://www.fao.org/docrep/v6200t/v6200T02.htm 5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1690920/pdf/11886645.pdf (p.520)a) 6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_bird_emblemsb) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_birdsc) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_birdsd) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_official_city_birdse) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_state_birds Birds and EntertainmentI have seen parakeets and pigeons all over the streets in Bahraich and other parts of Uttar Pradesh doing different kind of acts for instance, astrological acts in front of shopping malls and temples, and mimicking the people under the supervision of human beings who caged them for their livelihood or survival. Even though, Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 prohibits the commercial sale or even hunting of wild animals, birds including Parakeets, Munias and Mynas are sold in the market. It is estimated that for every bird sold in the market, two dies in route. Fledglings are stolen from their nests and smuggled to market in cartons and tiny boxes, and some are even rolled up inside socks for transport to cities.7″Despite the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which restricts the trade in foreign birds, a black market in birds thrives openly, involving many of the country’s estimated 1,200 species. Laws designed to protect India’s birds are well intentioned but rarely enforced.”- Peta India OfficialsBirds and MedicineAdapted from ancient medical history, predominantly almost seven birds have been found to be used the treatment of different diseases such as cough, tuberculosis, asthma and other respiratory diseases are the utmost cited disease, as such, a number of traditional medicines are available for the treatment.8 Some examples are as follows:• In South America, concoctions made from condor feathers are used in traditional medicines.• In the middle ages, powdered heron bill was used as a sleeping powder, and the heron’s fat toreduce pains.• The blood of the partridge was thought to help bloodshot eyes.• In India, peacock feathers have been used in traditional medicine for snakebite, infertility, and coughs.• The brain of the eagle drank in wine, helps cure jaundice.• For those who face the trials and tribulations of an aging body, the oil or grease of geese was thought to cure baldness, help deafness, reduce pain and noise in the ears, and is good for lameness, palsies, numbness, and cramps.• The green dung of the goose, gathered in the spring, works well for gout. And for dental issues, use the bill of an osprey, picking the gums with it until they bleed.9• Raw ptarmigan breast meat is eaten by chronically ill people who have lost their appetite, and it is used in thin slices on boils, on the neck (for a sore throat), or on the eyelids of a snow- blinded person. The dried neck skin is used to cover cuts and burns, and the thigh skin may7https://www.petaindia.com/issues/animals-in-entertainment/ 8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4472419/ 9https://ornithology.com/medicinal-uses-of-birds/ be applied to a boil. Ptarmigan down mixed with rancid seal fat or just raw ptarmigan oil may be used to treat a cut.• It is a common cure to eat a whole loon or red-throated loon. Usually raw, sometimes boiled, the whole bird must be eaten, if not at one meal then at least in one day. Often, the gallbladder or the top part of the throat must be eaten first. This treatment is for people who have tuberculosis, asthma, seizures, or children who have fainted during a fit. Also, dried loon intestines are chewed to relieve a stomach-ache.10Bird and AcademicsCuriosity among human being for animals has led the discovery of subject called Zoology and then for Birds a separate branch has been originated which is now known as Ornithology. Also, the lives of birds course in Azim Premji University itself is a classic example of the emergence of this curiosity turned formal and academic course. Furthermore, the course has impacted me, and I suppose all the student in the course in an indescribable way which turns out to be transforming our lenses towards how we see Birds and make us realize how birds are the soul of nature. Moreover, the exercise like birdwatching is an incredible way to build relation with Nature through Birds.Bird FeedingWhether it Central Park of New Delhi or Lal Bagh of Bangalore, it is pretty much common to see human feeding birds out of their sympathy towards them. However, I feel it is very much debatable that whether we are innocuously paralyzing Birds like Pigeons by giving them food and hence making them dependent on us or rather we are contributing in conserving these birds. Moreover, this perspective hardly matters when we are talking about the interaction or the relation with Birds as it’s surely happening either in positive or unconscious yet negative terms.Birds and SportsRaptors from eagles to small falcons have for centuries been used in falconry, often to catch other birds, whether for pleasure or for food.Cockfighting is an ancient spectator sport. It formed part of the culture of the ancient Indians, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans. It continues to be practiced in South America and across South and Southeast Asia, often combined with betting on the result.11 It is practiced in religious ceremonies in Hindu temples in Bali but is now banned in many countries on grounds of cruelty12.Pigeon racing involves releasing specially trained racing pigeons to return to their homes over a measured distance. The sport was popularised in Belgium in the 19th century and is now competitive worldwide. Also in Belgium and Flanders is vinkensport, in which participants have male chaffinches compete to make the most bird calls in an hour.13Birdwatching has since the nineteenth century become a major leisure activity. Millions of people around the world, amounting to nearly half of all households in some developed countries, put out10http://www.avataq.qc.ca/en/Nunavimmiuts/Traditional-Medicine/Medicinal-substances/Birds 11https://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Autumn08/rooster.cfm 12http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/12/cockfighting_and_chicken_history_the_world_slasher_cup_in_the_philippines.html 13https://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/world/europe/21finch.html birdfeeders to attract birds to their gardens or windowsills, at a cost of billions of dollars each year.14 15 16Bird as PetsThe emotion and trust in most unselfish yet selfish (as we both need ourselves) comes when you have won the heart of your pet. An introvert and an isolated person like me has socialized himself by talking to the Birds like Parrots and feeding and sometimes healing birds like Sparrows. From grooming to listening to the music together and having ‘me’ time, my partner was my parrot. It helps you to be happy, self-loving and relieve your stress. And the inspiration to the texts that I have written in the starting of this essay came from my bond with my pet including the birds with whom I use to feed as well.Bird Mimic Helping Music and SecurityBird has always been an inspiration to the human being. Honours like ‘Nightingale of India’ given to the singers like Lata Mangeshkar and freedom fighters like Sarojini Naidu shows how prominently it has moved Music directors and any human being for that matter in terms of Pitch, their call etc. Moreover, use of Birds call has significantly contributed to the signal codes of Armies worldwide.There are still countless of ‘economic’ ways like everyday fashion material that uses Birds feather (which is indeed inappreciable) in which we encounter some relation with Birds. What matters is the way we interact and build our relationship with this incredibly beautiful creation of nature called Birds. 14http://www.audubon.org/bird/at_home/bird_feeding/index.html 15http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/feeding/index.asp 16https://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/world/europe/21finch.htmlOption B2 (1)Try to remember and describe the birdlife in your hometown – do you hear birds often? Do you see them often? Are there many different kinds? Do you find them mostly in particular areas? In particular seasons? (max. 700 words)Born and brought up near just 35 kilometres from Katarniya Ghat Wildlife Sanctuary and Dudhwa National Park, which is very much rich in having the different varieties of species of animals in each of its branches. I must say I am the lucky one sitting in the class to write my experiences that I had with birds throughout my journey with them. However, I am yet to discover the names and then their features of the birds that I have been with but that is not going to stop me from writing the relation and bond that I have with them.I spent 18 years of my life hearing the chirping of birds. The voice of these incredibly beautiful creations of Nature was all I had to start discovering my passion for birds. Their voice never ever had disturbed or annoyed me. Instead, my day prodigiously goes lucky when I hear the very first voice of birds than human in the morning.I was 3 when I started naming the birds which are now worth laughing when I am a little aware or adult human being. Every morning in Bahraich, the Birds I came across until now are many, to name a few (which are common, and I have known for years) are Mynah, Sparrow, Parakeets, Parrots, Peacock, Owl (mostly in night), Partridge (Ptarmigan), Chicken, Siberian Crane, Crow (domestic and jungle) Cuckoo, Duck, Eagle, Kite, Nightingale, Sparrow, and Kingfisher etc.I had a deep relation with Mynah, Sparrow, Parrots, Peacock (still come to my kitchen garden), Siberian Crane (because of the paddy cultivation), Crow, Cuckoo, Nightingale, and Kingfisher as I use to feed them in the yard of my home itself. It was not about just feeding them, I have also started to develop a deep relationship with them. When I was 13, I could spot which Bird I have fed and which I could not. To some, I have given the body mark, and some were identifiable even if they belonged to intraspecies.As mentioned in above essay as well, I am a person who is very much introvert and unsocial, so most of the time I use to feed them, groom them, talk to them (believe me they do understand you) and listen to music with them.As a matter of fact, during winters the frequency of peacock, Kingfishers, Parakeets, and Parrots are ususally more than summers. During winters it is 5-6 times a day (stop coming after 1600-1700) while in summers it is only 2-3 times (stop coming after 1300-1430).B2 (2)Reflect on whether the birdlife in your hometown has changed during your lifetime. (max. 300 words)As ascendency in urbanization is yet to come and my home is far away from the city, I am lucky enough to have a persistent landscape of Birds in and around my home itself. However, observation needs to be done on the regular basis which I have not done since 2013 as I shifted for higher studies in this year but except peacock, because we now have boundaries which barricade them, I use to continue all the above activities with all of them whenever I go in vacations. Sadly, I have observed that frequency of birds has dramatically decreased (some of them which were common come only twice or thrice as compare to the ‘old times’ which was 7-9 times a day, before darkness takes place in the evening;1600-1730), this might be either due to my absence and lack of care from the people in my home, Wi-Fi and other network radiations or the height of my home which is now up by one floor.Furthermore, on checking the monitoring data on www.birdlife.org, the area is now in substantial risk category which is bothering me like anything right now. I am thinking to appeal to the forest department to consider the matter and parallelly on completing Masters, I am thinking to do a little research in order to find out the problem and solution to the same.B2 (3)If the birds in your hometown became extinct will you miss them? What about them will you miss the most? Do you think people, who don’t pay particular attention to birds in their daily lives, will also miss them? What about them will they miss the most? (max. 300 words)Birds are not only meant to be the beautiful creation of nature but also, we should see them as a part of our natural system which will help us to think about birds in a lot of other ways in which we usually do not think about. Like I will miss them because I made them my morning alarm rather than depending on my mobile or alarm watch, when I had no human to talk, birds use to listen to me for like hour and hour, they use to stay with me, listen to music with me, I will miss their presence in the places which I made for them. It is like without them, I am incomplete. These realizations came when I shifted to Delhi and then to Bangalore. In short, I will miss being with them. Now that I know more about birds after ‘Lives of Birds’ course, I am curious to explore more about them.About the people who are least bothered about the bird, it’s like old parents who they think isn’t in use or no more in relevance but somehow if they don’t find them even for one day, it will bother them weirdly because old parents are what makes their family complete whether positively or negatively. So, in the same way, if Birds completes the nature and it is one of a soul of it. Their appearance, their call, their shit sometimes or at a larger picture their presence is what they will miss them.B2 (4)Should we be concerned about bird conservation in big cities? Or should we accept that cities are only for humans, and conserve birds elsewhere? What might be simple ways in which we can help birds in cities, without affecting human activities too much? (max. 700 words)I have observed a significant amount of change when I shifted to New Delhi in 2013 for my undergrad, I could only find jungle crows with their cranky (yet helped me as a natural alarm) morning call. Concerning all the descriptions that I have provided to the above questions, it is impossible for me to imagine nature without Birds.I think as a boy from a naturally rich place, I have taken Bird’s shit as manure and believe me it is not less than quality cow dung manure, Bird’s voices as morning alarm calls, in a nutshell, I made them a part of life. Now coming to the urban cities or big cities, which I describe as DIST-URBAN-CE, it is people who have conceptualized, gave a definition to, and made it a disturbed fragment of nature. We need to think urban or cities as places for all. Human are selfish and in a way, it is right to be selfish but imagine a day without Birds or any possible part of nature which we today might want or not, it will not be able to sustain for long because nature is like a web in which even one thread cut makes it foundationally weak. So, in a way to protect birds and so as nature should be considered as a part of our selfishness.To make a bird-friendly city we may adopt these small yet powerful habits:? When not in use we can switch off our Wi-Fi routers and put our phones on airplane mode (as I have felt that when using mobile networks, the very same birds I use to live with avoid coming to me and most of the studies suggests that extinction of sparrows is due to network radiations).? Before we keep water, some grains to concrete place, we should consider making a small terrace, window or balcony garden which will make them feel as they are at home.? We should stop using pesticides if there is any kitchen garden.? We should consider stopping Bird Hunting? Consider giving young children exposures to nature and bird and make them concerned about Birds which will help them in making an informed and nature concerned decisions in the future.? Lastly but above all, we should explore the ways in which we wake our passion for birds up. It could be done by becoming a Birdwatcher, keeping a scientific record of them, creating a likeminded community in surrounding and making a Bird-friendly or Bird-concerned clubs just like other communities in ‘urban-societies’ where apartment culture has predominantly taken place.