Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Coorg -
What do you call someone who hangs around upside down, and prefers to descend a tree, head first? Is this another transcendental yogi, or just someone ripe for the local loony bin? Consider also, that this is someone who keeps urging you to ‘sit, sit, sit’, and then tweets a ‘chip, chip, chip’, and you just can’t help the feeling that he is triply touched in the head. However, we also understand that the concerned reader may harbour thoughts that the entire Lifescapes team had imbibed rather freely from the famous Coorg spirit, the night before this issue went to print. Ladies and gentlemen, allow us to repair our reputation by presenting to you the Velvet-fronted Nuthatch of Coorg. However, we suggest that the formalities of a firm handshake at eye level wait till he corrects his posture. This is one smart bird that uses his logic-defying locomotion to snare his prey. Naive spiders and insects discover the fatal folly of curiosity when they wander dangerously close to the strange spectacle. Others are taken in by another sleight of wing: the sight of the Nuthatch performing stationary wing flaps in front of a tree trunk, akin to an avian treadmill session. This must surely be the most satisfactory aerobic workout, for it often ends with a tasty insect meal. One wonders whether like a master performer, the Velvet-fronted Nuthatch also utters his patented cry of ‘sit, sit, sit’ to draw an audience and lull them into a false sense of security, before they discover that they are the main course. On the domestic front, he much prefers to refurbish existing holes in trees by adding creature comforts like grass and moss-lined beds, before courting his lady love and producing the next generation of head turners. One look at the chicks descending a tree head first and you’ll agree that they sure are a ‘chip, chip, chip’, off the old block!