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Don’t feed pigeons, say ornithologists

Are you among those who feed pigeons and think you are being kind to them? If yes, you would do well to heed ornithologists and birdwatchers. They say by feeding pigeons, you contribute to an increase in their number, resulting in an imbalance in the ecosystem.

Rachel Dammala

Pigeons at the Lalbagh Botanical Garden

Bengaluru, January 24, 2017: People feeding pigeons at Lalbagh is a good example. Since people began feeding these birds, their number at Lalbagh has increased. This has resulted in other bird species becoming weaker than pigeons in the area. Ornithologists and birdwatchers say this could potentially result in other species losing their position in the ecosystem. Not only birds, this is the case with animals too.
Ulhas P. Anand, a Bengaluru birdwatcher, informed The Observer: “Birds are an indicative species. This means a decrease in their number helps us predict bad conditions… as they (birds) are sensitive to those conditions. Not just Lalbagh or Bengaluru, but the number of birds and number of species across the world has come down drastically. The number of birds we saw during the 1980s and 1990s is nothing compared to what we see today.  They have come down by a whopping 98%. Since 2002, Bengaluru has seen a decrease due to extreme and rapid urbanization.”
While many argue that not feeding these birds might result in them disappearing like the house sparrow, Anand said it is not case, and there is nothing to worry about the survival of pigeons.
“The case of sparrows is completely different. They are nowhere to be seen now because they lost their nesting grounds as a result of more and more apartments and buildings coming up. But pigeons can nest in any corner of a building,” Anand said.
Ornithologists say the number of water birds in the city has declined most.
Anand, along with other birdwatchers and ornithologists, has visited 172 Bengaluru lakes to count the number of water birds. They do this in December and January every year. Their exercise this year has been extended to mid-February.
According to them, the difference in the numbers from last year is huge.

dammala.r@iijnm.org