Meet The Mumbaikar Who Has Set Up 100 Bird Shelters & Rears 350 Butterflies In Her Apartment
It is very rare to see house sparrows and bulbul in The Metros now. When habitat degradation is considered a major cause of wildlife loss in urban areas, there are few people who are making some extraordinary efforts to conserve nature by innovative ways.
Arundhati Mhatre, a software professional working in an IT company in Powai, Mumbai, whose passion lies in nature conservation has set up 100 bird shelters and rears 350 butterflies in her apartment balcony in Mumbai. She is not only providing food and water but also providing secure nesting places to the Sparrows, Parakeets, Robins, Sunbirds and different species of butterflies.
The Logical Indian had a conversation with Ms Arundhati and she revealed that “Urban people are losing connectivity with nature and she is trying to rejuvenate their relationship with nature. So bird feeders and shelters installation in the apartments is one of the key highlights of her initiative ‘Arenya’ started in the year 2013”.
In the last four years, she has nurtured hundreds of birds and butterflies.
What inspires her?
“My friend had gifted me a shelter which was occupied by Sparrows, which in turn lead me to a Bird watcher. Later I started rearing butterflies and learnt about the plants and trees around on which the butterflies breed. After getting so much from nature, I thought it was a right time to give back to the nature. So if a shelter-box can give me happiness, why not to gift similar experiences to other people. So we started promoting bird feeders and bird nest boxes.”
To understand different plant and animal species, she has been roaming in the forests from past 8 years.
She has also done one year PG course on “Sustainable Management of Natural Resources & Nature Conservation” from Ecological society, Pune and Field Botany course from Fern, Thane.
Balcony as a garden:
In her balcony, she has different varieties of plants species like Shoe Flowers, Ixora, Sadaphuli, Marigold, Plumbago, and Nectarine for Sunbirds.
For Butterflies, to lay eggs in her balcony, she has plants like Lemon, Citrus plant, Kadipatta, Bryophyllum, Krishnakamal (Passionflower), Rui (Calotrophis) and Mimosa.
She buys around 100 shelters and feeders every year and those are made from Clay, Coconut and Bamboo. Shelters are made into different sizes and shape to accommodate different species of birds and provide them with a safe nesting. Her family members, husband and friends are helping her in building shelters and other areas of their specialisation.
“We get the shelters and feeders made in local communities and rural areas” she added.
Talking to The Logical Indian she said “these feeders have broken Rice, Bajra, Jowar and Sunflower Seeds. The grains have to be washed in the way we wash our grains before cooking. The grains are washed and sun-dried.”
Sunflower seeds and grains can attract a different variety of birds like sunbirds, house sparrows, robins, swifts and parakeets.
She further said “butterflies reared on different plants and they are feeding young leaves or flowers in the balcony which is specific to specific species. The Guava Blue Butterfly only feeds on the flowering parts of Gardenia.”
She has different varieties of flora in her balcony which are attracting Red Pierrot butterfly, Plain tiger, Common Mormon, Lime butterfly, tawny coster, Castor butterflies in her seventh-floor garden.
Birds used very selective materials to build a secure nest and hay, Jute or cotton balls are being provided to birds. The important thing to be noticed here is birds should find nest secured and it should be least disturbed.
She further disclosed that “The best way we can help nature is ‘not to interfere’, but since we are destroying their habitats like cutting Trees, destroying age-old structures, water bodies, It’s our duty to provide them alternatives. So we provide them food, water and create secure nesting places. We can’t help them build a nest, but can provide nesting material like hay and Jute or cotton balls. But birds are very choosy and will accept them only if they feel secured. Also occupying a nest box by a bird requires lots of patience and one has to wait for years for the bird to accept it or we have to change the shelter box location after studying the bird patterns like where the birds visit more like the meter boxes, AC ducts.”
Sharing work with society:
Under an initiative ‘Arenya’, she is creating awareness and a culture where every second household will be contributing in the form of bird shelters and feeders placed at appropriate locations.
She says “We exhibit out products in exhibitions; we take workshops in schools in how to make feeders from recycled products and in various other events that happen across the cities.”
The Logical Indian appreciates Ms Arundhati Mhatre work of conservation and recommends our community members provide shelters, protect ecologically important varieties of flora and fauna and play an active role in nature conservation.
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