Birds suffer from respiratory diseases, paralysis, rickets, and are prone to chickenpox in summer…. these are some of the problems that doctors and members of the Charity Bird Hospital in Gurgaon (now called Gurugram) deal with on a daily basis.
Delhi has four charity bird hospitals but there wasn’t a single one in Gurgaon (Gurugram) till 2009. A few animal lovers in this pocket of the National Capital Region (NCR) encountered situations where wounded and injured birds died while they were being rushed to Delhi for treatment.
So, 13 generous humans got together and decided to set up a charity bird hospital in Gurgaon.
To learn the ropes of running an institution like this properly, these people paid several visits to the Charity Bird Hospital in Lal Mandir, Chandini Chowk, Old Delhi. Once they were sure of themselves, they established a bird hospital next to the Digambar Jain Temple in Sadar Bazar, Gurgaon.
“It’s been almost seven years now and the numerous birds that have left this hospital hale and hearty give all of us here a feeling of achievement and satisfaction,” says Dr. Rajkumar, the youngest of the three doctors who treat these feathered creatures.
In every season, birds are prone to infections and other medical problems. Wild birds living near human beings, as well as pet birds, have numerous health issues that have to be dealt with very delicately. Finding a hospital to treat human beings or animals is not at all difficult in most places these days. However, there are very few hospitals only for birds.
Just like for all other animals, air pollution causes a lot of respiratory problems in birds too. In addition, peacocks and poultry are prone to an acute respiratory disease called ranikhet. A very common eye infection found in pigeons, sparrows and coppersmiths is kuraija, and like all eye infections this one too is contagious.
Paralysis is very common in pigeons and sometimes in peafowl too. Rickets is yet another problem seen in birds.
Chicken pox is a summer time problem and only little baby birds are prone to chicken pox. Whenever possible, the parent birds are immunized against chickenpox before they mate. This has helped reduce the number of chickenpox cases among the babies. In winter, birds are prone to tumours. Tumours can grow anywhere in the body and need to be surgically removed in most cases.
“Kite flying is very popular among humans at this time of the year. The Chinese manja is dangerous for all animals, birds and humans. Very often, birds get caught in the manja and by the time they are rescued, their ability to survive becomes difficult. With the hot weather setting in, birds getting dehydrated will be very common. Unlike other animals, these fragile creatures require a lot more water as they cannot store as much as larger animals can. Very often, we will see birds unable to fly and searching for water everywhere,” continues Dr Rajkumar.
Radiation from mobile towers is very harmful for most animals and birds. One of the many reasons that we do not see as many sparrows in the cities is because of this. Sparrow populations were slowly dwindling even in the villages on the outskirts of cities like Gurgaon.
With the introduction of nesting boxes, there has been a considerable rise in sparrow populations and this has given these bird lovers a feeling of achievement.
Dr. Rajkumar also remembers another successful case his team handled. “Just two years ago, a hen came to us after having been hit by a vehicle. This poor creature had so many broken bones and injuries that to set everything right we had to put something like 150 stitches all over her body. Today, she lives happily with no problems at all and no one will be able to ever tell that she went through such agony just a couple of years ago.”
“The hospital has both outpatient and inpatient facilities for the birds. People bring their pet birds for treatment and we give them treatment as well as advice on how to look after their pets and other birds in the vicinity. As for inpatients, birds are brought in by some extremely kind people. We keep them in separate cages till the treatment is on. Once they recover we shift them upstairs, to a room that is like an aviary, where they are given time to recoup. The healthy bird is finally released into the wild,” says the proud doctor.
The Charity Hospital has been able to run for all these years without charging anyone for the birds being treated there. There is a donation box available in the doctor’s consultation room where anybody can donate however much they wish to. The local shopkeepers regularly contribute for the treatment of these birds. There are donors from various parts of the world who give the hospital monetary support.
Somehow, without ever having to ask for monetary help, this hospital has been able to meet all its expenses till now.
There are plans to expand in the near future, as the hospital is finding it difficult now to accommodate the large number of birds on its premises. With the good will that the hospital has earned in Gurgaon, and the support it receives from well-wishers, the board members are sure they will find a way to fulfill this dream too.
If you need to take a bird in need to the hospital, here’s their address: Charity Bird Hospital, Near Govt Girls School, Digambar Jain Temple Lane, Jacobpur, Gurgaon.