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Foster Baby | Apurva Purohit

Wow, 7,003 of you have read this.

Winston – Tinku flew off yesterday and once again I felt the pangs of being an empty nester!

For the last few months, I have watched with great interest a pair of hawks diligently building a nest just outside my window, then laying an egg, sitting patiently over it for several weeks taking turns to keep it warm, till one fine day a little baby hawk emerged.

I christened him Tinku but according to my son he looked quite rakish (see that spiked tuft of hair on his head giving him a dashing look?) and thus he became Winston – Tinku.

Little Winston Tinku

Little Winston Tinku

Over the last few months it has been quite a delightful experience watching him grow at such close quarters, with only a window pane separating us. I have seen him change from a shivering little helpless chick, requiring a parent’s body to keep him warm, to a fat waddling baby, perpetually hungry, waiting eagerly for the return of his parents, trembling with excitement as he greedily devoured whatever tasty morsels they got for him.

I have watched him as he has slowly grown into a teenager strutting around the parental nest, admiring his beautiful wings and the lovely speckled markings on his body, testing out the strength in his wings, waiting to finally fly off into the wide open sky, beckoning him to take part in the adventure of life. Over a period of time I saw him grow increasingly impatient and also bored with his forced stationary status, one day lolling about in the nest looking petulant, on another day eagerly staring up at the sky waiting to take off.

Till finally one day he did.

Teenage Indolence

Teenage Indolence

And while their baby was growing up, I also saw the patience his parents showed in first building that nest on the ledge, making sure it was robust enough to handle any gusts of wind, and then sitting on the egg day after day, week after week till it hatched. I also saw the effort they took in searching far and wide for food by turn while the other parent ferociously guarded the baby. And finally I saw the courage they showed in leaving him alone, for longer and longer periods each time as they learnt to let him go.

Ready to fly

Ready to fly

But what got me truly thinking is the calm acceptance both parent hawks showed in taking equal responsibility in hunting and nurturing; equally participating in building the nest, hatching the egg and feeding the baby! No gender biases or ‘You-caregiver, Me-hunter’ issues there!

Now I only wish human beings would take a leaf out of a hawk’s life …

(Pictures by Avinash Nair )

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