Pigeons, Discrimination and Nature’s Survival Guide
Lately, I have a fan base among the pigeons. I started a bird feeder for pigeons. Luckily, there is no rule against it here, unlike Hiranandani Estate where they ban residents from allowing pigeons and plants outside your windows or flats. When I saw a group of pigeons hovering around, I was reminded of the kabutar khanas in South Mumbai, where the floors are always laced with jowar and hundreds of pigeon ghutargoo. I used to like standing and watching them eat there. It’s incredibly peaceful to hear them ghuttargoo and feel the breeze that fluttering wings create. I wondered if I could recreate the experience.
There was no pigeon feed in the kitchen. I pulled out a small bowl of rice grains and kurmura. The rice grains vanished in a few seconds. The kurmura or puffed rice was rejected. Until a merry white dove with a large pink beak came along. Either the dove was hungry or well, it had a preference for kurmura. It pecked the kurmura into oblivion. Well, here’s a bird that likes kurmura and it was pretty to watch, with it’s large pink beak.
I repeated the ritual the next day. Once again, all the pigeons stuck to the rice. The white dove, when it tried to peck the rice, was harassed by the black rock pigeons. So, it opted for the kurmura.
Now, I decided to get them some jowar. Oh, the pigeons came in hordes. Ten, may be twenty pigeons flew in from all directions. Jowar was the preferred feed. They went ghuttar ghoo; ghuttar ghoo. A family of white doves joined them. The younger white doves were now ignored as there was plenty of feed. However, the white ones did not opt for the kurmura, except for the one with the large beak, which did not look like it belonged to the family. Soon enough another large white spotted dove sailed in. Elegant with long neck, where flecks of black feathers were visible. It strutted around ignoring the rest with their heads bent, pecking at the feed. Finally, it decided the feed was good enough for it to try. As soon as it started pecking though, the other pigeons attacked its wings. And it flew off.
Discrimination is a part of nature’s survival guide. It tells you – are they different? Then, chase them away. They may get more food if they are not around. Are they attractive? Then, attack them. Are they injured or weak or disabled? Then, ignore them. Are they not like you? Then don’t accept them. God seems to prefer that they hang out in homogeneous groups. Well…I wish God would rewrite the survival guide.
God’s Revised Survival Guide for the Pigeons (a few pointers) –
- Don’t fight for food.
- Accept everybody. Let each eat what it can.
- Don’t hang around construction sites.
- Don’t think of cement or broken bricks as soil.
- Watch out where you peck.
- Don’t play with plastic.
- Don’t think that the garbage dumps are where humans put out their feed for you.
- Don’t build nests on buildings. The nasty humans might clean you out.
- Tall buildings are not trees and man is not God. He will destroy your nests and bee hives. He will also sell your honey.
- Be ready to eat what humans give you. As what you were given as Nature, was grabbed by humans for his fields and later factories.
- Humans will even use nets, guns and scarecrows to chase you out. So, learn to live amicably with them and wait for what they give.
- Always try to be on the good side of the human.
Of course, feeding pigeons daily has its drawbacks. Here’s a guideline:
- Make sure you have the right kind of feed.
- Make sure there is plenty. At least a bowlful and not a handful.
- Fix a time. The pigeons will come there daily at feed time.
- Be punctual. Else they will ghuttar ghoo till you respond in kind or feed them.
- Soon, they will think that you are a ‘dine –in’ and come at all times and ghuttar ghoo. They also have menu preferences, so be prepared to have your feed ignored. They will crane their necks left and then right and then peek at you with their orange beady eyes, pleading for more.
- Don’t feel bad when they ghuttar ghoo intensely and stare at you really hard and beg. Don’t melt, else your week’s stock of feed will disappear in a minute.
- Make sure your neighbours feed them as well. So, you feel les guilty when a few late comers straddle in. They can always hop over to the next window.
- Keep a little feed till the rest of them fly away. A few immature ones and the albinos or the mulatos (black with white feathers or the white with black feathers) will hang back. Then, sneakily spread the rest of the feed.
- Keep some kurmura at hand. You never know, which one prefers kurmura.