The kalyani (pond) in Sankey Tank has turned into city’s own Trafalgar Square, with hundreds of pigeons flocking the place everyday. While it looks picturesque, especially when the birds take wing together, some regular walkers are apprehensive about their presence. For, they ask, where are the other birds? Have the pigeons driven them away?
What has attracted the birds to the tank in such large numbers is the kindness of a few people who every morning and evening feed them without fail. But the pigeons are loved by some and considered a menace by others.
“A few people bring a sack of foodgrain and feed the pigeons near the pond. Sometimes, it is difficult to walk through the place as it is full of bird droppings. Encouraging the practice, a vendor sells pigeon food to those interested in feeding the birds,” said Priya R. (name changed on request), a regular walker.
Pigeon feeding is largely a religious practice, wherein people believe that it is akin to doing good deed and will bring prosperity. Some do it on humanitarian grounds.
“These birds thrive and breed because of the easy availability of food. One cannot even spot crows in the area now,” she said.
However, others say the presence of pigeons does not bother them. “They don’t come near the walking area and remain on the steps of the kalyani. The only worry is the bird droppings, which we hear can cause allergies and breathing issues,” said Ramakanth, who has been regularly walking around Sankey Tank for three years now.
The Sankey Tank Walkers’ Association has also been receiving complaints from a few walkers about the presence of the birds. “The number of pigeons has definitely gone up in the last few years and some people have complained about this. But, there are others who are for the practice. We cannot take a stand on the issue, it is up to the civic body to decide on this,” said Anand A.R., of the association.
However, ornithologist M.B. Krishna says that it is unlikely that pigeons can drive away other birds. “Pigeons are quite harmless, though a nuisance at times. The reports about them spreading diseases is also not proven. Cross-species infection is not as prevalent as some people make it out to be,” he said, and added that by designing our buildings better so that they have sloping ledge not a flat one, the number of pigeons can be controlled.
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