The Place for Chipped Beaks and Broken Wings
Growing up, my family always kept outdoor cats who would occasionally come home with a “present” (a.k.a. a decapitated bird or rodent) for their owners. How thoughtful of them. Once in awhile, too, the cats would leave us a bird that still had a little bit of life in it. My siblings and I would feel awful, and would desperately want to rescue the bird or take it to an animal clinic. Unfortunately, the nearest avian veterinarian was about an hour’s drive away, and didn’t do charity work. So, we just had to sigh, say a prayer for the bird, and let nature take its course. If only we had had something like the Jain Bird Hospital nearby.
The Jain Bird Hospital is part of the Digambar Jain Temple Complex in Old Delhi, and another item on my India To-Do List. It sits just opposite the Red Fort, and Amrit and I had the opportunity to visit while we were sightseeing along Chandni Chowk. This charity hospital cares for sick and injured birds – and the occasional rabbit – that are brought in from the streets.
Perhaps I still have some unresolved guilt about not being able to save some of the birds that appeared on our doorstep, but I thought the Bird Hospital was so sweet! The staff were kind and welcoming as they ushered us up the stairs and into the two small hallways that constituted the hospital.
The walls of the hospital had graphic, colorful murals (that I found, oddly, to be charming) depicting the various ways that birds might become injured. The cages were filled with all kinds of birds suffering from different ailments. There were pigeons with broken wings, peacocks with patched tails, and green parrots with injured claws and beaks.
I suppose this hospital isn’t for everyone. Some of the birds are in a more critical state than others, and some injuries may make the faint-of-heart cringe. Still, I thought that the very principle of caring for animals out of charity justified a trip (and a donation) to the hospital.
My favorite section of the hospital was the parakeet section. The parakeets were colorful, lively, and all seemed to be in good health.
Saturday was also an especially good day to visit because the birds that have recovered are released on Saturdays, which can give visitors hope for the other patients in the hospital.