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Monday, July 23, 2012

the enchanting sands of Marina and the Pigeons there

It is so commonly seen and known but its scientific name would make it unintelligible – ‘clade Columbidae’

Early morning the famous Marina beach offers intriguing things. There are young, old, fast, slow, and varied people indulging in chit-chatting, eating and drinking the various health drinks ! that are sold on pavements.  You can see people walking, walking fasting, jogging, sprinting, skipping, doing physical exercises, yoga, laughing out loud – more – all law unto themselves – thinking and spreading that these are the passport to good health.  For some time there were shops selling ‘arugampul’ [Bermuda grass] juice and sprouted grains. Now ‘aloe vera’ [sothu kathazai] seems to be the fad…. People drink this juice, take pieces of the green and wipe their face, head, leg – expecting it to do wonders in brining shine, reducing weight and sending away diseases. You can observe a couple of elderly Jain gentlemen distributing bread and sometimes biscuits to old, disabled and vagabonds. A group singing bhajans; some doing breathing exercise, nearer Gandhi statue – a group from ‘laughing club – Chennai chapter – laughing themselves differently  ……………….

You can hear the sea, the sound of waves  and nearer – the  waves jumping and touching the shore and then submitting themselves to the shore but trying to comeback to conquer again ! would be very interesting sight  – One  can see monstrous  ships anchored in the middle of sea, some fishing boats and Sun coming out as a red ball from the Sea – all great sights to behold.  To those given to enjoying Nature, the morning at Marina  provides innumerable things like morning birds, dogs – stray, and owned – local and foreign breeds of various sizes; posh cars; bi-cycles; vast expanse of sand and more…..

Pigeons are commonly found on Temples – the walls of Sri Parthasarathi Swami Temple have them in large numbers.  Recently opposite the famous Vivekanandar House or to be precise opposite the Lady Willington teachers’ training institution, one can observe hundreds [in fact closer to 1000s]  of pigeons.  In the morning they come in large number to eat the feed spread out by a group of Marwadis from Sowcarpet. The birds in large numbers can be seen eating the grains on the sands and suddenly they would lift themselves and circle in groups – a great sight to behold ! – a wave of pigeons on the sky.

Pigeons and doves constitute the bird ‘clade Columbidae’  that include some 310 species.  In general the terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice, there is a tendency for "dove" to be used for smaller species and "pigeon" for larger ones. Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and have short slender bills with a fleshy cere. The species commonly referred to just as "pigeon" is the Feral Rock Pigeon, common in many cities.

Where there is no organized nesting place as provided in Temple wall gaps, Pigeons build relatively flimsy nests from sticks and other debris, which may be placed in trees, on ledges or on the ground, depending on species. They lay one or two eggs, and both parents care for the young, which leave the nest after 7 to 28 days.  Some raise them as pets – trained  domestic pigeons are able to return to the home loft if released at a location that they have never visited before and that may be up to 1000 km away. A special breed, called homing pigeons has been developed through selective breeding to carry messages and members of this variety of pigeon are still being used in the sport of pigeon racing and the white release dove ceremony. The ability a pigeon to return home from a strange location necessitates two sorts of information. The first, called "map sense" is their geographic location. The second, "compass sense" is the bearing they need to fly from their new location in order to reach their home.  There are some competitions for the Pigeons testing the duration of their flight as also the distance that they travel back home.  

Next time, you are nearer Marina beach, sure watch the Pigeons which are spotted around 0530 to 0630 in the mornings.

The kindhearted men who spread the grains as feed do face some trouble; sometimes some try to run through the cluster, frighten the birds or even try to catch them. When interrupted, rudely they would ask ‘who owns the sands of marina or  the birds’ and there is some trouble for the birds touted as symbols of peace.  Harming or catching the Pigeons is cruel and the birds that come at dawn providing us happiness should not be troubled.  May be some help from Police and the administration is required to keep the boisters at bay and provide peace to the symbol of peace ‘Pigeons’.

… and when it is time for Pigeons, can crows be far behind.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd July 2012.


  1. I saw them all today.. interesting sight indeed - Manimekalai