Delhi summer: Here’s how you can help birds and strays survive the burning heat
If summers in Delhi make humans wilt, with our access to both shade and water, imagine what it’s like for birds and stray animals trying to survive outdoors, where they have little shelter and even less sustenance. However, there are a few steps that we can take to ensure that our furry friends and birds have it easier during this burning season. Experts in the city have some great tips:
Water bowls with a stone: One of the best and most basic ways to ensure that animals can survive the heat is to provide them with enough water. You could make a bowl out of any kitchen utensil or buy some terracotta pots from a local potter. Terracotta helps the water stay cool for longer. “For a bird bowl, place a stick in it or throw in a stone, so that the birds can also take a dip,” says Nadeem Shehzad, Trustee, Wildlife Rescue. He also advises cleaning the bowls regularly, so that one sick bird does not infect the other birds. “Just make sure to keep it at an elevated spot, where hunting animals can’t reach the birds,” he adds.
Makeshift houses: The heat takes a toll on dogs out in the streets, especially any that may have heavy coats. You can create makeshift doghouses using any cartons and cardboard pieces that may be lying around your house. You can line it using khus chataai (grass mats) and wet towels and sheets. As for creating a shelter for birds, Ravi Dubey, president, People for Animals Faridabad, says, “Since the number of trees is going down in the city, it would be a good thing for people to place nests on their balconies. There are several of these available online. Alternatively, make use of cardboards and leaves to make nests for birds.”
Keep the food supply going; be careful with milk: While grains and pulses are always a good option for birds, a lot of them are fruit-eating birds. So add fruits like watermelons to the mix. When it comes to feeding dogs and cats, Dubey cautions against leaving milk outside. “Milk goes bad easily during summer. So, while your intention is to do good, you only end up causing harm,” he says.
Grow plants and creepers, avoid spraying chemicals: While plants kept on your balcony won’t attract the big birds, they do provide refuge to smaller birds. “Climbers attract house sparrows and other small birds. And usually they’re dense enough to provide sparrows shade and security from hunting animals,” explains Shehzad, adding, “Don’t plant ornamental trees. Plant fruit-bearing trees that are native to the region. They grow into dense plants and the birds can also eat the fruits.” Another thing to take care of would be to ensure that the plants aren’t sprayed with chemicals that could be harmful to the birds.
Check under your car before driving off: “Animals such as stray cats and dogs tend to sleep under cars to remain cool in the summer heat. So when you start your car, do check that there’s no stray animal sleeping under it,” explains Dubey.