AVIAN ARCHITECTS

The wise and learned Dr.Stork, The Secretary General of the World Council of Birds had called an urgent meeting requesting all affiliated members to attend to discuss a very burning issue: “How to build nests that could apart from giving protection from natural elements also protect from plundering enemies”. His Excellency, Mr. Eagle had kindly consented to preside. The venue, in the absence of any registered headquarters, was a large open field dotted by a few trees here and there.

On the appointed day and hour the members started trickling in, one by one. Among the early arrivals were the pigeons and sparrows, doves and ptarmigans to name a few. They were pretty well-mannered, but the crows and mynahs just could not maintain any decorum on this august occasion and made a nuisance of themselves by babbling constantly. Then of course, there were others like peacocks, lyre birds, birds-of-paradise, parrots and some others who thought they were attending a fashion parade or something such and were busy preening themselves. Among the late arrivals were the owl and nightjar, still looking sleepy. Though most birds were quite social and exchanged greetings, poor owl and nightjar were treated as pariahs or outcasts perhaps because of their nocturnal outings. Suddenly, there was pin drop silence. The mighty falcons, hawks and ospreys had arrived! All of them were very powerful and influential members enjoying veto rights.

As soon as the necessary quorum was present, Dr. Stork requested his Excellency to take the Chair (er, a suitable branch) and call the meeting to order. The President, Mr. Eagle, then perched himself on the highest branch of a nearby tree and then the only item on the agenda was taken up for discussion.

It was suggested that they appoint a competent architect who could not only help with the design aspect of the nest but also execute the entire project. There were three birds in contention – the woodpecker, the tailor bird and the weaver bird. There were no backers for the woodpecker, as it was felt that no bird had a beak strong enough to peck a hole in any tree. They were of course presupposing that the woodpecker was only going to give something like a prototype of his own nest. The poor bird was shouted down before it could even present its case.

The tailor bird was ruled out because the type of nest suggested by him could not withstand the windy conditions and would easily be detached from the tree. Moreover, it was not roomy enough either most birds did not want to live in such small nests, which they thought were like staff quarters! That left only the weaver bird.

Upon request by the President, the weaver bird came forward and unfolded its plan. To start with, he stressed the importance of choosing a suitable tree. Hardly had he uttered the word “tree,” when the crow interjected, “we all build our nests in a tree, not on a sandy beach!” The weaver bird felt insulted, but ignoring the crow, continued. “Choosing the right material is an absolute must. You must find thin strands of straw.” Now it was the mynah’s turn to interrupt, “huh, as if we build our nests with bricks and mortar! Of course we use straw and twigs and the like!” It was getting a bit nasty, but the weaver bird kept its cool.

“Having found the right tree and the right material, start weaving in this fashion…” As it was about to demonstrate how it should be done, the tiny sparrow interrupted it again, “this is no big deal, we all take straw and twigs and intertwine them.”

Well, that was the last straw on the camel’s – sorry, weaver bird’s – back and it just flew away in a huff and that was the end of the Council of Birds, never to meet again!

No one even had the courtesy to propose a Vote of Thanks to the perch!

Unknown to the others, the weaver bird was secretly designing and also producing prototypes of prefabricated nests to suit all birds when this sad incident occurred and consequently, the feathered fraternity frittered away the chance of a life time with the exit of the weaver bird. And as you all know, the birds have not mastered the technique of building good nests till date.

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