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May 12, 2023

"In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence." --Robert Lynd

Bokkapuram's Birdman

"He can recognise the gentle hoot of the elusive wood owl and the call of four types of babblers. He also knows exactly what kind of ponds the migratory Woolly-necked storks breed in. B. Siddan had to drop out of school, but his knowledge of avian species in and around his home in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, is the delight of an ornithologist. "There were three boys named Siddan in my village of Bokkapuram. When people wanted to know which Siddan, villagers would say, 'that kuruvi Siddan -- the boy who runs madly after birds all the time'," he says, laughing with pride. His official name is B. Siddan, but in the forests and villages around Mudumalai, he is better known as kuruvi Siddan. In Tamil, 'kuruvi' refers to passerines: birds that are of the order Passeriformes -- more than half of all bird species. "Wherever you are in the Western Ghats, you can hear four or five birds sing. All you have to do is listen and learn," says Vijaya Suresh, a 28-year-old primary school teacher from Anaikatti, a village nestled in the foothills of the Nilgiris. She says she picked up valuable information about birds from Siddan..."


The next time you are outdoors, experiment with 'becoming a part of the silence,' and see what new awarenesses emerge if any.