It’s out of his way but Zain-u-Deen, a 45-year-old Asian national, drives daily to an open land in front of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (known to many as OCCI) in Ruwi. At the back of his car is a bag of grains — sometimes they are raisins and some other times they are sunflower seeds. This part of Ruwi has been the feeding ground for a flock of pigeons.
Zain takes time out of his busy, mundane office work and drives to this spot to give the seeds or whatever he has in hand to the waiting creatures. It has become part of his routine and he has been feeding them religiously since the time he got to the Sultanate.
It doesn’t take long before the small bag in his hand is emptied and even the last piece of grain is served to them.
“I have been feeding these birds for nearly two decades ever since I came to Oman for the first time,” Zain shared.
“I always keep a bag of grains in my car which is sufficient for the next two to three months before I buy the next one. For me, it’s a part of my prayers and supplications and I’m just doing my duty as a human being,” he added.
Back in his home country, Zain had a huge collection of pigeons and he grew with them around him. They were his pets which is why he has a special place for their kind in his heart.
It’s not just Zain who finds a divine contentment of fulfilling a noble task by feeding these birds. There are several citizens and residents who find an inexplicable joy in giving food to these creatures. The Muscat Municipality workers who ensure the area is kept clean, too are into helping them find their food for the day.
With summer especially harsh, the small actions they do means a lot to these creatures who calls the area home.
“I’d been assigned to manage this area. As I do my work, I make it a point to collect grains which are scattered everywhere to feed them to these birds”, Uday, an expat cleaning worker said.
Uday, too, has made feeding the birds his routine which unsurprising to him, they always come back to the area.
“They know that their food will be served around this parking lot and they come here without fail. But they fly back to their homes by evening”, Uday added.
Pigeons are common in cityscapes because they are not picky eaters and are flexible with their diet. They eat a combination of fruits, vegetables, seeds, insects even waste food.
Since the ancient times, pigeons are permanent fixture in cities and had served numerous purposes — from sports, to food even as message couriers. They are best known for their ability to return ‘home’ and despite travelling long distances, always find their way back which is why in Romans and ancient Greek times, they were used extensively to carry messages.
Although the pigeons in Ruwi served no special purpose like carrying message, birdfeeders like Zain and Uday dedicate a small portion of their time to show a little care for these fascinating creatures.
Although there are a number of safer havens for these creatures to feed on, it is especially important to provide food and water for birds in the harsh summer months lest they would end up dying for want of basic life necessities.
Some neighbouring buildings with balconies are having trouble with bird defecating on their properties but many not seem to mind.
For Zain, seeing the birds well fed is a source of joy which is why he guaranteed, he’ll be coming back the next day.