A camera mechanic by profession, Joseph Sekar, who lives in a rented apartment in Chennai, has been feeding birds for the past 28 years. During monsoon, around 6,000 parrots flock to his terrace
Royapettah, Chennai (Tamil Nadu)
You may have come across a lot of cases of special bonding between animals and humans. Chennai-based Joseph Sekar’s case is one such. He is a camera mechanic, but people also know him as ‘the Birdman of Chennai ‘.
Joseph works as a camera mechanic at Royapettah in Chennai, the busiest city of Tamil Nadu, but every day, in the morning and evening, thousands of birds like parrots and pigeons, come and perch upon his roof, where they are fed rice. Taking about his love for birds, Sekar, who has been feeding birds for the past 28 years, said: “Ever since I rented this house 27 years ago, I’ve been putting rice and water here. Earlier, many sparrows, crows and pigeons used to come and feed, but after the Tsunami of 2014, the parrots took over.”
He added, “Initially, five or ten parrots used to come, soon within a year, more than 1,000 parrots started coming. And the number continued to grow. Now, at least 300 parrots come here in any season. During the rains, their number swells up to even 6,000. During cyclones, these numbers increase further. They dislike the heat. Their number increases in the winter and rainy seasons.”
Every day Sekar feeds these birds up to 60 kg of rice, during cyclones, it goes up to 75 kgs, while in summer, 35 kg is just enough. “Now, we feed them twice a day, between six and seven in the morning, feed time in the evening varies according to the climate. Usually, they come here between 3:45 and 6 PM. On rainy days, it starts at two or three in the afternoon and ends at about six in the evening,” he informed further.
But Sekar also faces many difficulties. His landlord is pressurizing him to vacate the house. “It’s a rented house, and my homeowners also want to dispose of the property of. I don’t have money and am looking for funds. I plan to sell my father’s land, and maybe all my cameras, in order to overcome the problem. It will be good though if either the state or the central government help.”
He added: “I earn money by repairing cameras. I feed these birds with this income. About Rs 2,000-2,500 is spent in a day. I do get help from people for up to Rs 1,000. People give me rice worth Rs 1,000, which eases my burden. But I am a one-man army. I have to buy rice, store it and clean the place. Every day it is a routine work. Because of this, my business also got affected. I close my business at 3 PM. I begin the work of camera servicing at 10.30 AM and stop at 3 PM. After that, I feed these parrots. Everything is fine, there is no problem.”
Hoping for help from the government, Sekar said: “Anyone can take these cameras, whether state or the central government. As far as cameras are concerned, they all are collector’s pieces, but for parrots, this is where they live. Anybody can make a museum with my collection of cameras and this is my open request to everybody. The government of Nagaland has invited me to stay there for ten days. I have not been able to go so far. I am constantly deferring it.”