Once upon a time, which was exactly a year ago, first arrived a brown-headed barbet, pecking away with great purpose over several untiring weeks.
It would look down intently to check if the debris it had flung from its prospective second-floor home had landed on the intended target – the pesky squirrel most likely.
One afternoon, in one fell swoop, barbet one was displaced by barbet two, who continued excavating. After a few days, for reasons unknown, it vanished.
A few moons went by uneventfully. Then landed a ringneck couple. They speculated for a few weeks before deciding that they liked the property. They launched on the finishing touches, taking breaks only to flirt, and in the most charming fashion: regurgitating straight into the other’s mouth.
There were heated exchanges occasionally between the ringnecks, domestic disturbances that suggested that all was well with their world.
The voyeur squirrel would watch from the neighbouring tree, the one that had dodged the barbet’s missiles, chittering away in shameless glee.
In a month or so, the ringnecks too abandoned the now-almost-done house. Was this house haunted? Vastu incompatible?
Then came, and went, red-vented bulbuls and robins and mynahs and a brahminy starling in its tapering black cap. I’m not sure these were cavity nesters but they seemed to be contemplating the option.
Once even a grey hornbill, the solemn-looking bird whose beak and casque evoke images of the prehistoric pterodactyl, perched nearby for a few minutes.
The high-rise housing, I thought, would end up with only one prominent inhabitant, the big blue carpenter bee renting a crack on the ground floor.
Finally, last week, I saw the ultimate appropriator of this mysterious property that’s right across my balcony.
The new homeowner first lounged lazily on the patio, a branch off the house, for a good half hour. It stirred reluctantly and, scratching its back with exemplary dedication, ambled into its apartment.