Kite flying is done with fun and fervour across India on the occasion of Makar Sankranti/Uttarayan festival and on India’s Republic Day and Independence Day cebrations held in the month of January and August, respectively.
Every year, thousands of birds across India lose their wings and their lives due to injuries caused by the glass-coated kite flying maanja/string, used for flying kites and in kite flying competitions. These are usually Made in China and are preferred over the traditional Indian cotton thread string/”saddi”, as they are sharp and help cut the other person’s kite string and help people win bets, games and kite-flying competitions.
What people don’t realise is that their moment of pleasure and entertainment is blood-sucking! As heads, wings or claws of birds are mutilated by maanja, once entangled in it. Birds die of excessive blood loss or are crippled for life.
Please let us not entertain ourselves at the cost of these lives.
Not only does this glass-coated manja hatm animals and birds, it has also fatally harmed kids, adults and bikers.
Flying kites with manja is definitely no fun for families who lose their loved ones or for birds who become entangled and fatally injured in the deadly glass-coated string.
Manja is deadly to thousands of pigeons, crows, owls and other birds who get entangled in it. The birds’ wings are often severed, dooming the animals to an agonising death.
Even after the kite flying festivals are over, these manjas which remain entangled on electricity poles or tree branches, continue to entrap them.
About the author:Divya has trained as a wildlife rescuer in Sydney with Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services. She specialises in birds and that is where she derives the confidence to continue her work in this area after having moved back to Gurgaon. She would love to share her expertise and knowledge with like minded people. Those interested in learning tips about bird care, may please contact her on email@example.com
As I sat outside in my garden, thinking of my pet bird that is in Sydney, awaiting paperwork before it flies to India, a pigeon flies out of a tree and falls on the ground, as if it ran out of ‘steam’.
'Poopy' - the Pigeon (Photo Credit: Divya Kapur)
I waste no time in jumping out of my chair to take a closer look. The pigeon sits still, showing no signs of wanting to fly away. As it sees me coming closer, it starts to walk away, looking for a dark corner for comfort and safety. I immediately knew that this poor fellow is not well. By this time, I also figured that it is a female.
I wait for it to get into a corner of my patio, just behind a pedestal fan. That is when I reach out with my right hand, grab her gently from behind and turn her upside down. I hold the pigeon’s head in the cup of my left hand to keep its eyes covered. Birds are very visual. It can go into a state of panic and even shock to see itself in the hands of a human being. By covering its eyes with one hand or even with a muslin cloth, I am able to calm the bird. This way I am better able to examine it for injuries.
As I had suspected, the pigeon has hurt itself on his right foot. Not bad but it had scratched itself enough to bleed. Fortunately for me, my very helpful daughter, equally passionate about birds and animals, is home because of summer holidays. She is quick on her heels to get some cotton wool, clean water in a plastic bowl (small container in which you get soan papdi…we also believe in and encourage recycle, reuse and reduce policy) and Dettol. We gently cleaned the wound with clean water, making sure all along that the bird is calm and not stressed. I still have its eyes covered for that. Then I cleaned it with cotton wool dipped in diluted Dettol water mix.
I then put the pigeon back in the corner where it felt safe and secure, while my daughter and I got busy in preparing a large box to house the pigeon. After all, it wouldn’t be a sound idea to leave her out in the open, unable to fly and unsupervised.
I got a cardboard box. Thank God I have plenty as I have recently moved from Sydney. Any plastic basket with holes will also do. Make sure it is large and not claustrophobic. Go by your own instinct. I lined the bottom with plastic bag, topped with a couple of newspaper sheets. Now comes the interesting bit. My daughter then spread soft leaves and grass on one half of the box, bearing in mind what the pigeon is used to in the wild. The idea is to provide the bird with what it is familiar with, to make it feel ‘at home’.
'Poopy' feels at home (Photo credit: Divya Kapur)
In one corner we put another reusable plastic container for water. Remember to put some clean stones at the bottom of the bowl so it does not tip over. Then we spread some bajra all around for the pigeon to feed on. We then carefully picked the bird up again, as before and put him in his new home to recover.
The wounds healed in about two weeks. By now, the pigeon was active and alert. She would spring up to see us walk by. Every morning and evening, I would put the box outside in the garden for the pigeon to get fresh air and see other birds. During the day, the box was placed in a covered shady spot. The water was cleaned every two days and the paper was changed every 3-4 days, depending on how much mess our little feathery patient made.
It’s been a month now and I lovingly call her ‘Poopy’. Unfortunately, the poor bird has a problem with its right wing. But the good news is that she is out of her box. She has found comfort on top of our linen cupboard and that is where she lives along with its water and food bowl. I am not surprised at her natural instinct to be above us and in a cosy corner. That is how they live when outside.
I am still looking for an avian specialist to diagnose the problem correctly and suggest the next course of action for us. Meanwhile, I am not stressed about whether it will survive or not. That is beyond my control. All my family and I can do is keep it safe because a bird that can’t fly is a bird that will either become another bird’s dinner or run over by a car.
For now, all you bird lovers out there, I am sure you now know that it’s not difficult to look after a pigeon and definitely does not cost anything at all. You can do it yourself in the comfort of your own home. . There are lots of birds that get injured, are sick or abandoned and orphaned. It’s not difficult to look after them. All it needs is some basic knowledge, lots of enthusiasm and love.
It is vital to stabilize an ill or injured pigeon or dove as soon as possible after rescue.
Three basic steps should be followed.
HEAT, ISOLATION & HYDRATION
A bird must be warmed gradually to a normal body temperature and be responsive (able to swallow). It is not unusual for a baby bird presented for rehabilitation to be very cold. (If a bird is unresponsive, please seek the assistance of an experienced rehabber or avian vet immediately.)
If head trauma is suspected, do not place them on heat.
Give the bird a quick, superficial examination. Unless there is a critical situation, e.g., (severe bleeding) all birds should be covered and placed on a heat source* (see below) for at least 20-30 minutes to bring the body temperature back to normal.
Allow the bird to stabilize in a quite, dark, warm area.
While the bird is warming, take the opportunity to prepare any other items you may need to care for the bird, e.g., International Rehydrating Solution (recipe noted below)
A ‘COLD’ BIRD SHOULD NEVER BE GIVEN FLUID OR FOOD, PERIOD!!
Fluids should be given after, and ONLY AFTER, the bird has been warmed, examined for any injuries & a determination is made as to the severity of his dehydration.
All fluids should be warmed or at room temperature!
Description and degrees, of hydrated and dehydrated birds
A well hydrated bird will be very alert, have elastic skin, bright eyes, moist, plump membrane inside the mouth and well formed moist droppings.
A moderately dehydrated bird will be less than fully alert, have dry, flaky skin, dull eyes, non-formed droppings and have a sticky membrane in the mouth.
A severely dehydrated bird will be lethargic or unconscious, the skin will ‘tent’ when slightly pinched, have sunken eyes, dry or absent droppings and have dry membrane in the mouth.
Depending on the cause and degree of dehydration, reversing this condition can take up to 24 hours. If the bird is alert, he may be rehydrated using an eye dropper and putting drops along his beak every few minutes, making sure the fluids are room temperature or warmed slightly. BE CAREFUL SO AS TO NOT LET THE WATER ENTER HIS NOSTRILS. Initially, a rehydrating solution should be administered. Plain water should not be given unless nothing else is available.
Please follow these simple, basic, yet most important steps.
The cells of the body simply don’t work properly when dehydrated. Absolutely no digestive processes can take place if the gut CAN’T work. Absorption will not take place, food sits in the gut, undigested, and will eventually kill the bird.
* Heat source suggestions:
Towel lined heating pad, set on low
Towel lined hot water bottle
Low wattage lamp, directing the light into the cage.
* Emergency heat source substitute:
Fill an old sock about 2/3 full of rice. Microwave the sock for a few seconds. Making sure it isn’t too hot, place it around the bird.
* International Rehydrating Solution:
To a cup of warm water add a pinch of salt & sugar, mix well. Use this solution to rehydrate by mouth.
* Emergency rehydrating substitute:
By following these basic steps you have done your best to stabilize your little feathered patient until further assistance is available.
Credits: This article has been posted here thanks to the information circulated by Charu Shah through the Facebook Group ‘Awareness on Kite Flying’, Neha Patel (from Baroda, Gujarat), Nilesh Bhanage (from PAWS Mumbai), Fauna Police (at Delhi) , Wildlife Rescue (at Delhi)
Every year, the festival of Makar Sankranti (falling this year on 14th January 2011) is celebrated with a lot of joy and cheer, but hardly few people know that this joy causes death to many innocent birds.
People use manja/kite string made of glass, so that the kites they fly don’t get cut easily and fly higher, but what they don’t realise is that the same threads responsible for killing a lot of birds every year while crippling others for life.
This glass manja (glass powder treated string or also called Chinese string/manja)gets entangled in the trees and cause death not only on that particular day, but for months after that.
The legs or wings of the birds that sit on those trees, have nests therein or fly past its branches get entangled in this manja, and stay there, sometimes hanging upside down for days …on end, bleeding, and dying a slow miserable death.The most common bird to fall prey to kite flying in the city of Delhi is ironically a raptor bird, known as Kite (to learn more about this, read this article till the end).
Apart from regular birds like sparrows, pigeons, crows, some exotic birds, who have migrated from far off places across the world, also get entangled in the web of glass manjas and loose their lives.
Not to mention here that many humans also get their throats and fingers slit because of these manjas hanging lose all over the place.
So if possible, please celebrate the festival spreading cheer and not death!
(Design Courtesy: Fauna POLICE)
Attached below are come contact numbers for bird rescue in Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Baroda (Gujarat).
All these numbers have been verified by Ahimsa in malad and by Charu Shah, so please forward this piece of information to all your contacts, and please try to save a life this year!
Please note that some of these people listed below may not have an ambulance service to come and take the injured bird, but YOU CAN (and should) definitely take an injured bird you spot to either of these people and request them to administer it medical treatment and take care of the bird until it is fit to fly again.
Why do so many Raptors get injured in Delhi because of kite strings?
Poster Courtesy: PAWS
Delhi is one of the largest producers of meat, as a result of which large amount of meat scrap gets dumped across various corners of the city in illegal slaughterhouses spread across the city. The extinction of Vultures acted as a boon for Black kites (Milvus migrans) and gradually, there was a rapid rise seen in the population of Black Kites.
In India, people love to fly paper kites with the help of sharp glass coated strings/Glass Manja. This string acts like a ‘naked sword’ in sky and generally cuts everything which comes in its way whether it’s a bird or any human being. There have been many cases in which this ‘Manja’ has killed many human beings with fatal wounds on their throat.
We request you to kindly consider giving up kite flying or if you still love flying kites, fly them using a coton string, referred to as ‘saddi’ in Hindi .
For the glass string that gets tied on poles, tree branches also acts as an inevitable injury and death trap for birds of all species as they get entangled in them.
Once caught in these glass manjas, these birds are find it extremely difficult to break free and in the effort that they make to free themselves from these mesh of strings, they end up damaging their wings and other body parts, like damaging their toes.
If ever you spot an injured bird of prey like Kites, Eagles or any other non-vegetarian birds, please dial the following Helpline Numbers in Delhi – 9810029698, 9810129698,
For all other kind of birds, like Crows, Pigeons, Owls etc.,contact : 9810639698, 986855222, 9212111116