The squawking of Alexandrine Parakeets fills the 20x12 room at a house in suburban Thillai Ganga Nagar, while other smaller birds make an equal attempt to attract visitors with their calls. Welcome to the Dax Memorial Animal Rehabilitation and Resource Centre.
The centre currently houses 50 birds of different species, which have been rescued by people and handed over to an animal welfare organisation. The founder of the centre, Ranjit Daniels, says that the idea of rescuing birds started in a small way nearly eight years ago, and the centre has now turned into a full-fledged home for rehabilitating birds chased by dominant ones such as crows. Chicks of various birds that fall from their nests and others rescued by people also find a place.
Dr. Daniels, also the managing trustee of Care Earth, a bio-diversity research organisation, says that the Centre has helped learn two important aspects of bird life — their longevity and the season for sighting each type of bird.
“Raising a rescued bird is the most difficult task. Pigeons, parrots and finches are basically grain-eaters and the rest require non-vegetarian feed. So, the rehabilitation is more difficult than the rescue,” he says. The type of feed to be provided to a rescued bird and a suitable place to keep them are the two key factors one should know. This would help the birds recover completely from the stress and strain and get accustomed to their new environment, he adds.
The centre does not stop with mere rescue alone. It is also involved in releasing the birds when they are ready to go. So far, over 100 birds have been released, says Dr. Daniels. There are certain small birds which cannot be released. They have to be kept in enclosures till they die a natural death, he says, adding: “Once the birds are ready for release then they have to undergo ‘soft release training.’ The birds are allowed to stay in another room where the feed is provided. They start flying and they also learn to identify their feed. This is followed by actual release.”
The rescued birds are mostly released into forest areas suitable for them. Recently, a pair of barn owls, which came as chicks to the centre, were released into the Nanmangalam forests.
On future plans, Dr. Daniels says that Susidharan, a physician, has donated a two-ground plot at Oorappakkam near Vandalur. A large rescue centre is being planned there along with a veterinary care facility. Volunteers interested in helping the centre and bird rescuers can contact him at 9282123242.