Residents of Potthakudi, a village in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, selflessly kept their streetlights off for 35 days to help an Indian robin peacefully lay and hatch her eggs.

Local streetlight operator Karuppu Raja, who spent the last decade routinely turning the village’s streetlights on at 6 p.m. daily, noticed the robin building her nest on an electrical switchboard that controls 35 nearby streetlights. Wanting to help the soon-to-be-mother, Raja spoke to local residents, sending photographs of the pregnant bird and her nest and encouraging people to support leaving the streetlights off until the eggs hatched.

“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 [her] hatchlings at any cost.”

Students also joined the cause, campaigning door-to-door and on social media to get residents to agree to keep the lights off. Even after the eggs hatched, over 100 households agreed to leave the streetlights off until the mother bird and her hatchlings vacated their nesting site. Raja also gained the local government’s support.

“During the lockdown, I saw many people suffering on the streets without a place to stay,” a village council member told the ED Times. “I did not want to give the bird the same situation and agreed to cut the power line.”

Over the course of the nesting period, Raja routinely posted updates to social media about the bird family’s health. Thanks to locals’ cooperation and kindness, the mother and her babies nested safely in what could’ve been a dangerous location, reminding us of the potentially life-saving power of small sacrifices.

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common Indian robin