With all the common facilities of OPD, ICU and general wards present at Shree Vijayanad Hospital, what makes it special and unique are its patients- Birds. The 20year old hospital runs solely on charity and is on the eastern side of Delhi- Shahdara. The hospital is built with a sole motto of saving the lives of birds who are the bearers of any injury, infections and fever or have any fractured limb. One can find a variety of birds ranging from pigeons (domesticated and wild), eagles, crow, peacocks, lovebirds, African grey, owls, parrots, wild tail, bajri, copper tail to migratory birds as well. Living in a metropolitan city like Delhi, which on one hand has alarming rates of pollution, criss cross network of wires is also a home for migratory birds with sanctuaries like Okhla bird sanctuary and thus Dr Amitabh Dev, the head doctor at the hospital says, “In order to find a new home every season, the migratory birds while making their flight in groups, often tackle into each other, hurt themselves and thus people bring them as a patient”. He further explains that eagle and vultures being at the top of any food chain may kill and hurt the other birds and are kept in cages. Other than birds, rabbits are also brought in as patients.
Step by step recovery
Treatment at Shree Vijayanad Birds Hospital is done in a very organized and formal manner. Build across 4 floors, it operates just like a normal hospital where patients are shifted from one room to the other as they recover. The ground floor the office area. From the first room, one can get a feeling of a real hospital where a big room named ICU1 keeps the birds in ‘serious conditions’. There are individual as well as group cages for the patients. Next to the ICU1 is the General OPD where ‘operations take place’. The patients after being operated upon are shifted to the recovery ward. Here small birds and those suffering from paralytic conditions are manually fed. Others are kept in groups of their own kind, a bowl of medicine mixed in water is provided and two-time feeding is done which requires a total of 8 people. On the third floor is ICU2 where birds who are almost recovered are kept. A ‘Handicap room’ being the ‘home’ for birds who cannot fly for the rest of their life is also on the same floor. “A noticeable change can be seen in these birds from ICU1 to ICU2 when they make failed attempts of flight and are able to eat on their own,” says Dr Dev and thus the fourth floor being the terrace will soon be ‘opened for them’ which is the last stage. The terrace being flooded with birds are free from any cage and nests are created for them to lay eggs. He further adds, “birds are just like children, they bear with us during all these stages and some of them never want to leave, or they come back for grains and water”.
Situation on independence day
How ironic it is to see that birds being symbolic of independence are the only living organism which do not feel independent on India’s independence day. The practice of kite flying cannot be done away with as it has become a ‘tradition’. The use of plastic and mirror coated thread called ‘manjas’ is destroying the environment by hurting birds in large number and eventually affecting the ecosystem. “On independence day, we do not get time to eat. My hands are covered with blood throughout the day and I don’t step out of the operation theatre” says Dr Dev. The situation on independence day is more of ‘man created problem’ rather than ‘accidental cases’.
Mr Vimarsh Sharma, M.Sc Wildlife Science from Amity University, has been researching, reading the behaviour and common diseases associated with birds. From his 3 months of research work, Mr Sharma says that torticollis also called star gazing is most commonly noticed disease. “The heads of the birds turn 180 degrees because of a virus which attacks the cerebellum” he explains. For the same, he has proposed a project to evaluate the efficiency of existing methodology for treatment- allopathic and homoeopathy and introduced the Ayurveda method. Salmonellosis, eye infection, respiratory syndrome and parrot fever are among the seven main diseases which are repeatedly found in birds.