Even Sparrows... Bird watchers


Posted: 18.03.20 in Articles category

On a recent holiday in India I was surprised by the large flocks of pigeons being fed in the cities we visited. It's a practice we no longer follow in British cities and I was intrigued to know why people were doing so in Delhi. Apparently the motivation is religious. Hindu culture gives prominent place to various animals and birds, and acts of kindness such as feeding them is perceived to have beneficial consequences for those people who do them - later in life and in the reincarnated lives to come. I won't pretend to understand the Hindu belief in 'karma', but I readily accept actions have consequences, even when these are not readily apparent. However, I won't claim that feeding pigeon flocks in modern cities is necessarily a good thing to do as birds in such concentrated numbers create large amounts of excrement. The pigeons would doubtless disagree, as would their natural predators. Perhaps these include the numerous Black Kites which I suspect feed on considerable numbers of pigeon chicks.

As well as urban pigeons, India has a profusion of birds, both in numbers and variety with more than 1300 species having been recorded on the sub-continent. On my 'non birding' holiday I was lucky enough to see 136 species including 27 that were new to me. I think it's silly to talk about favourites, but nevertheless one bird really stood out for me because of its coloured plumage and unusual behaviour. Look on the internet for photos of the Rufous Treepie - a type of magpie. It's known locally as the 'tiger bird' as it allegedly has a daring habit of picking meat from the teeth of tigers while they sleep. It's colours strangely match. Rich fawn, black and white ... the colours of a tiger!

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