IMG_2555POSTCARD #185: Bangkok: It might look like a small heap of dirt stuck in a ceiling fan, but it’s a bird’s nest and the tiny bird, hatched out, is just sitting there, not moving… camouflaged, trying to look like a small heap of dirt stuck in a ceiling fan.

Almost impossible to see, but there’s a shape of a head there, and a small body. I can see it sometimes when it appears from under the wing of the parent bird but whenever I lift the camera, parent bird glares at me with this slightly fierce stare.

As soon as the parent bird leaves the nest, the other one gets in… unless I’m standing on top of a chair wobbling around with a phone camera and not getting anywhere. So I’m looking for an opportunity to get a better pic but that’s the best I can do without disturbing things too much.

Yep, some familiarity with this kind of situation because this is the second time around. We used to have doves on the balcony in an apartment on the seventh floor, 70-80 feet up, well above street level, above the treetops, just clouds and sky. I was surprised the birds would fly as high as seven floors. They’d come in the evening, stay the night and fly away each day at dawn – I should say they flew down each day because there really wasn’t any up. Following is a section of notes made at that time:

old notebooks: The birds have decided to roost on that big old artist’s easel on the balcony we have no room for in the apartment; somehow sculptural, artistic in a puzzling conceptual way, birds perched on the cross-piece and silhouetted against the evening sky. I’ll have to try to get them not to roost there; the smears of paint on the easel are becoming more of an ochre/white/grey smearing and dropping off onto the floor.

I spent the whole day today building a structure of bird perches made from bamboo canes bound with string, glue, duct tape and screwed to the wall. Then I waited until evening when the birds came back… but they didn’t seem to notice it at all and continued to perch on the artist’s easel. It must be about having your own place and your own identity, ‘self’, this is ‘my’ territory; this is me, myself, and this is where I am. None of the birds moved from where they were, and my elaborate new perch remains unoccupied.

Two days later: new birds have arrived and assembled on it, checking out the situation with this nearly 360 degrees sweep of vision they have, and thinking, well, it looks like this fine perch must be for us! But the old birds on the easel don’t like the new ones on the perch. There’s some upset-wing-flap and the deliberate pushy invasion of each other’s space with puffed-out, chest and assertive walk thus forcing the unwanted bird off its perch. Gained some understanding of the term: “the pecking order”.

About 15 birds now on the balcony, too much noise every night, small feathers blowing around and coming into the house. My wife Jiab really doesn’t like the idea of it and has spoken wise words about how it is getting quite crowded out there and how this is getting to be a problem. So I have to persuade the birds, I invited to stay, to go away… that’s a whole story in itself and I’ll write about it later.

LATE NEWS: I managed to get a very blurred pic of the nest and I think there are two hatchlings, not one.



13 thoughts on “camouflage

  1. Thanks for sharing that Tiramit. I enjoyed reading about the birds past and present. Nice reading a different kind of piece from you. Although I love all of your posts. : )
    Sorry I haven’t been “in touch” lately. : )

    • Thanks Suzanne, I’m writing about the birds because they occupy my attention for some reason. And this is how it was all those years ago too. Something about birds of the air living in the cities and how they’re coping with that. Thanks for visiting and good to hear from you…

    • This is it! If anything is left unused for a long time, it’s claimed by all the wild life around the house. Japanese friends were trying to rent a house in Dhaka but negotiations were taking a long time. When they finally gained access they discovered that pigeons had started to build a nest in the washing machine on the balcony – the door had been left open…

  2. Sounds like (from your old notebook) you have discovered what I did a few weeks ago. The doves on my balcony multiplied too quickly and there wasn’t room for a dozen or so. I stopped feeding them for a several days (except for a dish of water) and finally they found ‘greener fields’.

    But I still have at least one visiting me every morning so I occasionally put bird seed out for this favourite bird I see. I love the way it tries to peer in the glass door/windows, trying to see if I’m around (when there is no seed bowl on the balcony). I think it knows I love it and will eventually put out some food.

    • Yes, sadly it’s not really practical because there are always too many. You can try a little food and infrequently. But there’s also the nesting issue, if you allow that (and it’s difficult not to) one or both of the fully grown nestlings is likely to stay and keep coming back which attracts more and you’re back where you started. Cleaning up (all over the place) is the deciding factor maybe…

      • It’s the cleaning up that is a priority. My rental contract says I have to keep the balcony free of stains etc (not that it was perfect when I moved in). I tend to move my potted plants around to give them all a good dose of light every couple of months, so that’s the time when I scrub some of the stains beneath the pots……and any bird poop. 🙂

  3. A few years ago a pair of Peewees made a nest atop the porch light. It was in just the right spot for a small wireless camera I had purchased for my radio-controlled airplane. We could see into the nest via the camera, viewed on our television
    Day by day, we’d watch the eggs, then nestlings, under the constant care of the parent birds.
    We posted pictures and a few friends followed the story.
    There was a slight sense of loss when they flew, but also a gladness that three more Peewees filled our trees, and were likely to return in future years.

    Seek peace,


    • Thanks Paz for the story. It’s really great to be able to see that development and feel… well, you were a part of it. For me I learned so much about how birds are able to fly, their carelss disregard about standing properly on the balcony rail – who cares if you fall over and down in a 70 foot drop.. You can fly! Wish I’d had a camera to record the event. Maybe you can repost some of it?

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