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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Memorable Moments- Befriending Pigeons at Port Blair!

I have come back from a 3 day family vacation in Andaman. While I have a series of blog posts lined up, if I have to choose one experience at Andaman that is closest to heart that is the time we spent with the pigeons at Rajiv Gandhi water sports complex in Port Blair. We have seen people feeding large army of pigeons in many places, but how does it feel when a bird trusts you, comes close and eats from your hand? Can we ever convince the pigeons that we intend no harm and it is safe to come closer? On most previous occasions, either I didn’t have pigeon food handy to feed them or they never trusted me to come closer, but on this occasion, all of us spent precious and memorable moments in company of pigeons of Port Blair, who after initial hesitation, trusted us and gave us good company.

This post shares that experience.

Thanks to my sister who had planned to feed the birds and purchased some barley and corn the previous evening, we had some food to feed the army of pigeons. As we approached the area where pigeons are usually found, there was this man on whose arms pigeons were sitting comfortably and munching on the grains.

Once he was done, we went closer, offered our grains. At first the birds didn’t come close. We threw a few grains on the ground and birds picked them up. But when we extended our arms, birds hesitated to come close. My guess is they were thinking like
-    Is it safe to go any closer?
-    What if this person grabs me by the neck and kills me?
-    What if I am caged?
-    Do I need that grain that badly or shall I try my luck elsewhere?
-    Where is the local guy who comes here every day? Shall I wait for him or try eating what is in front of me..

Once a while few locals would walk in and all birds recognize such regulars and fly towards them- These people have been feeding the pigeons regularly and the birds readily go sit on their arms without any fear.

We kept grains on our palms and kept the palms on the ground and sat still. After lots of hesitation, few pigeons came closer, their legs firm on the ground and ready to take off any moment, but their beak and neck stretching on to the palm to grab a gain and swallow it. Few minutes passed and more pigeons surrounded the palm. Now they are no longer worried and busy gobbling as much as possible.

At this point I raised by arm a bit into air. Many pigeons looked disappointed that their food plate vanished, but few figured out what has happened and dared to fly up and sit on my palm and continue feasting.



Some of these pigeons seem to be rivaling each other. Pigeon on the left scared a few other pigeons away but seemed to be friendly with the one on the right. As I said earlier, this activity was totally memorable and touching.

Some tips-
  • Buy grains (barley, corn etc) the previous evening itself
  • Visit early morning before sun raises. 6 to 7 AM is optimal
  • Naturally birds are scared of any abrupt movement and loud noise. Keel calm and still as much as possible.
  • You should convince the birds that you have food and it is safe to come closer. We were able to get some success in about 30 minutes
  • Going there repeatedly every morning certainly helps
This also provided a good opportunity to try photographing these birds. Because they are constantly moving/flying around, composing a good shot is largely a matter of luck.



All cities will have areas where pigeons are found in large numbers. I am not sure if we can win confidence of pigeons in all cities with equal ease. I guess they also will have a threat perception to consider before coming close. If locals are friendly with them may be it is easier, if few had misbehaved with them then probably they will hesitate to come close.

Indian Bloggers
Seurasaari open air Museum near Helsinki, Finland is another place I have been to where we can feed birds and squirrels from our palm.

13 comments :

Kavipriya Moorthy said...

Cute post :) on my to-visit list :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Kavipriya- Thanks. Best wishes

Bhushavali N said...

❤️💙💚💛💜💓💕💖💗💝💞💟
Super adorable post Shri!
The first ever a time a bird sits on ur hand & eat is such an inexplicable joy!!!

Bhushavali N said...

❤️💙💚💛💜💓💕💖💗💝💞💟
Super adorable post Shri!
The first ever a time a bird sits on ur hand & eat is such an inexplicable joy!!!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Bhushavali - Yes, I remember you had posted something similar, couldn't locate it though

magiceye said...

Lovely photo essay!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Deepak Sir

The Untourists said...

Over a period of time, with selective breeding, Pigeons have become very used to humans. They easily eat off our hands..

rupam sarma said...

Loved the post :) Beautiful pics.

Ami said...

What fun!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Ami yes, had lots of joy doing this

@Rupam- Thanks

@Untourists- Yes, first time experience for us. Should try more often

Vasudha Hande said...

Also... When they sit on the hand resist the temptation to touch, cuddle or hold them.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Good point....