Harsukh Bhai Dobariya from Junagadh district of Gujarat was awarded with Srishti Samman award for bird conservation by President Pranab Mukherjee this year.
Everyday, around 2,500 to 3,000 parrots, sparrows and other birds visit Harsukh Bhai’s house.
Harsukh Bhai Dobariya
Harsukh Bhai has been taking care of these birds for the past 17 years. It all started with just one cob of pearl millet that he had hung on his balcony. In 2000, Harsukh Bhai met with an accident because of which he had a fracture in his leg. While he was resting at his home, one of his friends got some pearl millet from his farm. Harshukh Bhai hung one of these cobs on his balcony, which soon attracted a parrot. In the coming days Harsukh Bhai was overjoyed to see the numbers increasing.
“On the second day there were two parrots, then three, then four and within a month there were around 100-150 parrots and sparrows visiting my balcony every day,” he informs.
As the number started increasing, there was not enough space to feed the birds, so Harsukh Bhai got some old pipes, drilled holes in them and made a stand out of them. He fixes the pearl millet cobs on this stand and the birds feed on it comfortably.
Now, after 17 years, the stand is huge enough to hold 2,700 pearl millet cobs at once.
The family changes the cobs on the stand twice a day to let the birds feed on it.They feel the birds enjoy feeding on such stands as they feed on them all day.
Harsukh Bhai, who stopped his education after class 5 and joined his small family business, Gokul Gruh Udyog, spends Rs. 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh every year to feed the birds and is happy with the way even his grandchildren enjoy this hobby.
His grandson, Kripal, says about the mess that the birds create: “This is our entire family’s passion. See, we like to wear branded clothes and so we do. Does it mean that they never get dirty? We wash them and wear them again don’t we? Because, we like to wear them. It is the same in this case. We love these birds and enjoy cleaning the mess too, which is a part of it.”
Initially, the family lived in a house in the middle of the city, which had a small balcony. As the number of birds increased, in 2012 Harsukh Bhai decided to shift to his own house built in the outskirts of the city.
He has setup a complex ecosystem around his home to attract and comfort the birds in over 4 acres of land.
“In my old house, neighbours would get disturbed with the constant chirping of birds. The millet cobs would fall on the passerby and also the excreta of the birds was problematic for them. Though they would never complain, I still thought that these birds need a space of their own,” says Harsukh Bhai.
Every year, his house plays host to more than 1,000 sparrows who then have young ones here.He ensures that the hatchlings are safe and protects them from animals until they are ready to fly. Especially during the monsoon season, the doors of his house are open to all kinds of birds that shelter from the rains. Harsukhbhai also commissions the farming of a kind of gourd (tumdi), which he uses for making nests for the sparrows. He guides people farming this gourd and also distributes seeds free of cost to interested farmers.
Apart from being an ardent bird lover, Harsukh Bhai also loves to experiment with new types of crops and plants in his backyard.
He has developed a variety of potato that grows on the soil instead of under it.
He has also curated a plant whose leaves tastes just like garlic and is very good for health. He was awarded the Krishi Ratna by the Gujarat government for this.
“I believe that the blessings of these birds have always helped me to grow in my life. I think taking care of birds and animals is our duty,” he concludes.
Source : Better India