Villagers Went Without Streetlights for 45 Days to Help a Bird and Its Hatchlings

Common Indian robin/Akash Satpathy, CC license

When man and nature attempt to co-exist, man usually wins out. But that wasn’t the case in a small town in southern India when a native Robin recently chose to build her nest in an extremely inconvenient location.

The village of Potthakudi contains only 120 homes and has a total of 35 streetlights. Unfortunately, the misguided mama bird had decided to set up housekeeping in the town’s main lighting switchboard.

The nest and its inhabitants were first discovered by Karuppu Raja, the man tasked with turning on the streetlights each evening. A lifelong bird lover, Raja posted his find to local social media to alert the citizens of his discovery and ask for their cooperation in taking a hands-off approach to the unexpected temporary guests.

“I wrote on WhatsApp that switching off the lights was the only solution because the bird will fly once it realizes there is a human touch or contact near its nest,” Raja told the Deccan Herald. “I also told the group that we should save the bird and its hatchlings at any cost.”

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While some initially voiced concerns the lack of nighttime illumination would be inconvenient, Raja was eventually able to persuade his fellow villagers that any sacrifice would be worth it in the long run. “I explained that so many bird species have become extinct and we should not let Indian Robin go the same way,” Raja told DH.

So, rather than oust the feathered brood, the residents agreed to observe a blackout until the nestlings were old enough to fly the coop. The town spent a total of 45 days—and nights—in the dark, even disconnecting the switchboard from the power source to keep mom and her chicks safe.

After mama robin and her fledglings finally took off, the blackout was lifted, but the village’s extraordinary conservation efforts for the sake of one lone avian and her babies didn’t go unnoticed.

RELATED: Being Around Birds Makes Us Much Happier Says New Science

A bird in the hand may be worth two in the bush, but a bird in the switchboard has earned Potthakudi a reputation for kindness that’s likely to light up smiles for quite some time to come.

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