Survival of the Fittest

The koels were the first to be silenced. Spring dissolved into summer and summer soon grew intolerable; but walk into the densest of jungles or stroll in the tamest of colony parks, you could not hear a single note from that sulky singer.

Then it was the babbler’s turn. Usually, even the smallest park is fair game to them. They gather in groups of seven and set up their strange chorus, a lone individual starting, the others successively adding their inquiring notes. Babblers believe in joint families. Strange though it would have been to see a solitary member of the species, it was stranger still to see none.

Meanwhile we continued to cut down trees for better roads and better trains and larger buildings. We needed to go places faster and in greater comfort. We needed more things. We needed more services.

The doves were the next to go. But no one noticed their silence- they’re so understated anyway.

Something happened to the barbets next. Their slightly unbalanced-sounding calls are usually an annoying disturbance on May afternoons, but now you almost missed their insistent warbling…It’s summer, it’s summer, it’s summer….The birds seemed to have gone on strike entirely. It was as unexpected as Indian politicians saying nothing laughable for an entire day. But we had better things to do, so we thought little of it at the time.

And all the while, we were getting better roads, and better skyscrapers, and faster internet connectivity – the last of which we used, among other things, to watch videos of birds calling in their natural habitats.

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