#LBBPhotoStory: This Hospital Believes Birds Should Fly Free & We Agree

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Circa 1929, some members of the Jain community converted a small house in the lanes of Kinaari Bazaar into a charity hospital for birds, where the doctors would treat injured birds of all species. Today the hospital has relocated to a bigger building inside the Digambar Jain Temple and treats thousands of birds every day.

We take a look at the continuing tradition of compassion at the Charity Birds Hospital.

Charity Bird Hospital has been functioning for almost a century and the institute’s philanthropy towards birds is evident from the time one steps in to the reception area. Even ceiling fans here are covered up to avoid any mishaps.

According to Jain mythology, the gods were once arguing about brave and merciful kings on Earth. To conclude, Indra asked the two arguing demi-gods to examine this personally. Raja Megharath passed this test with flying colours as he offered his own flesh to the hawk to save the pigeon. This popular Jain fable is recounted in a vivid painting on the hospital’s lobby walls.

Almost 60 birds are brought in to be treated every day. A long corridor with cages on both sides {269 small cages for birds that need treatment, eight big cages for those in their recovering stage} is home until they recover.

Doctors at the hospital understand that the birds cannot be kept in cages all the time. So no matter who visits the hospital, birds are allowed to walk around freely whenever required. The birds are so comfortable that they are not afraid to walk next to humans.

During the day, some of the birds sunbathe at the grilled windows, waiting to recover and be able to fly again.

The birds are fed twice a day by two men who work at the hospital as well as the temple. The birds are collected in a basket and fed whole grains in batches.

Apart from seeds and grains, recovering birds are also fed corn, tomatoes and chillies which they relish.

Given Jainism’s aversion to killing, predatory birds are usually not admitted to the hospital but they do receive on-the-spot treatment and are sent to Wildlife Rescue volunteers in Chawri Bazaar if they require additional treatment.

The hospital is helmed by two doctors, who sincerely ensure that every bird is taken care of and paid individual attention.

Surgery and treatment of all birds takes place in the OPD. In this particular scenario, the pigeon’s feather was torn. Dr. Ramesur Yadav prepares to apply medicine and dressing to the injured bird.

Dr. Yadav and his staff administer medicinal drops to the injured pigeon.

Naina, a one-year-old parrot, has been unable to grow feathers and is a unique case. Several birds like her arrive every day and their injuries range from being hurt by kite strings, hunted by birds of prey, to being shot at by humans with BB guns.

Naina’s guardian knows she has to be admitted, which according to hospital rules means that she won’t be returned to him. Once a bird is taken in by the hospital, it is cured and set free to fly.

Since the hospital shares its premises with the temple, entering barefoot is mandatory. But that doesn’t stop the steady stream of curious travellers walking in to take a look each day.

The Charity Birds Hospital functions solely on donations, so make your way to Chandni Chowk if you wish to contribute or just go see some feathered friends.