Nobel is thirsty and tired. The little dove is covered with ice cubes and is being administered glucose at a hospital in Chandni Chowk, where as many as 70 other rescued birds have been admitted for sunstroke.
“She’s suffering from heat exhaustion,” said a doctor at the Charity Bird Hospital, Chandni Chowk, after examining the white bundle of feathers. All the birds being treated are housed in separate cages.
According to veterinary doctors, over 300 birds are treated every day in Delhi for sunstroke. March and April this year were the hottest in India in 100 years; in May, temperatures have shot past 45 degrees Celsius in the capital.
Y D Gaur, a veterinary doctor at the Charity Bird Hospital, said, “Summer is the worst time for birds as hundreds of them are grounded or fall prey to persistent heat waves.”
“Over 70 birds are treated every day for sunstroke at our hospital and it takes more than three days for a bird to fully recover from the stroke.”
The 80-year-old hospital, which is run by a charitable trust, houses 6,000 winged patients. It has different wards or coops for birds, a research laboratory and intensive care units. “Vultures, doves and sparrows are facing extinction,” Gaur said.
A caretaker in Karol Bagh who provides water to pigeons said, “These kabootars are one variety that is often struck by seasonal maladies such as dehydration in summer and pneumonia in winter. They can also suffer from cancer, paralysis, diarrhoea and blindness.”
Geeta Seshamani, founder of Friendicoes, SECA (Society for Eradication of Cruelty to Animals) said, “The population of birds is declining drastically in the national capital as the original green belt is missing and the ground water is contaminated.”
Abhishek, who monitors the helpline of Wildlife SOS, a voluntary organisation said, “The number of rescued birds, most of which are kites and pigeons, goes up in summer. While rising heat takes a toll on kites, pigeons succumb to viral diseases and paralysis,” he added.
Lack of nesting sites, disappearing kitchen gardens, increased use of pesticides in farmlands and non-availability of food sources contribute to the decline in several bird species in the city, say experts.