The birds have not left the hospital. It may sound like the birds are undergoing some sort of medical treatment at the veterinarian’s. But actually the babies have not yet learned to fly properly. They will leave as soon as they learn. These open-bill storks (shamukkhol) have been nesting in the trees of the Rajshahi Medical College Hospital yard for a long time now during the breeding season. The eggs hatch and they leave once baby birds learn to fly.
On 28 December, the branches of some trees were pruned on the excuse that bird droppings were spoiling the hospital environment. There were strong reactions and protest from environmentalists and bird lovers.
The birds have been using the yard trees of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital and Rajshahi Teacher’s Training College as their breeding grounds. At the end of the rainy season, the birds nest in the trees here and lay their eggs and hatch. Again, at the end of winter, the birds leave when their newborn babies take to wing.
The open-bill storks are mainly seen in the trees of the hospital. The trees around Teacher’s Training College are the home to cormorants (shankhachil) and other birds. Recently, the hospital authorities chopped off some branches of the trees in front of the emergency department and in the yard so that the birds could not sit on the branches.
On Sunday morning it was noted that the birds did not leave, even though the branches were pruned. The young birds were trying to take shelter in the koroi trees where the thick branches have been removed. A stork was seen sitting at the base of a cut branch. Some birds were trying to make their homes on the upper branches.
The branches of this tree have been pruned, but a number of the higher branches already had bird's nests and baby birds. The birds have refused to budge from there
The arjun tree behind the casualty department of the hospital is full of birds. They even fly inside the hospital. There is a mahogany tree in the roundabout as you enter the gate of the hospital. The branches of this tree have been pruned, but a number of the higher branches already had bird's nests and baby birds. The birds have refused to budge from there. They are still living in the branches of some other koroi tree in front of the hospital. A flock of birds were seen flying in circles above over the trees.
About chopping off the tree branches, director of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital Brigadier General Shamim Yazdani told Prothom Alo that the branches were cut so that bird droppings would not fall on anyone's head in front of the emergency department. He did not imagine people would be so concerned about it.
"But I will definitely value everyone's opinion," he said. “I actually think about patients. This was done with the patients in mind. We will have to take both into consideration.”
* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten for English edition by Ashish Basu