The warble in the hills

Visit this retreat of birds nestled in the foothills of the Chamundi Hill in Mysuru
What do we really mean when we talk of a “riot of colours”? One ought to visit Shuka Vana, a rehabilitation centre for birds at the foothills of the picturesque Chamundi Hill in Mysuru, to know the full import of this expression. It’s hard to think of more colours in one place, and riotous the flying denizens here indeed are, as nearly 2,100 of them belonging to 468 species chirp and call, all at once. Some of the birds at the aviary, spread across one acre on the premises of the Avadhoota Datta Peetham, startle you with their skills at mimicking. Parrots here have learnt to say what sounds close to “Hello”, “Good morning”, “Jai Gurudutta” and the like. It is perhaps their constant association with their caregivers like C.H.V. Sunil and Malathi that makes them masters at mimicking. It’s a delight to see dozens of parrots treat the two as their perch during feeding time. “They are like my children. Time flies when I am with them,” says Sunil with a broad smile. A team of doctors takes care of these birds, many of which have arrived here following infections, fracture, broken wings and so on. Often, it is human intervention in their natural habitats that have led to these injuries. Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, who runs the ashram, is not exactly a collector of rare birds but has rehabilitated many injured and abandoned ones. What began with the treatment of one bird found injured in the ashram has now spread to an acre and there are more birds than they can handle. The aviary has made it to the Guinness World Records for housing the largest number of bird species. The aviary, which is in the proximity of protected forest areas such as Nagarahole and Bandipur and bird sanctuaries such as Rangana Thittu and Kokkare Bellur, is a place worthy of visit for bird and animal lovers. With multiple species within one space, it is a classroom of sorts for anyone interested in bird species.
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