When the hawk loses its prey, Ashok Mirpuri nurses the injured bird back to life.
For years, the owner of Paisa Miser on Jay Street has cared for pigeons, doves and any other animal that runs afoul of the hawks that circle overhead. He has two pigeons in cages outside his store now, recovering from predator attacks.
There are at least three hawks in the Schenectady area, according to downtowners, who watch and photograph the raptors as they sit perfectly still on lamp posts and telephone poles, watching for prey below.
Usually, when they strike, their prey is killed. But sometimes, a
bird falls from their talons and lands, still alive, on the pedestrian walkway of Jay Street.
That’s where Mirpuri comes in.
“If you see something hurt, it’s my duty to take care of it. It’s life,” he said, citing his Hindu upbringing.
Over the years, he’s cared for 10 to 12 birds, he estimated. All of them recovered and flew away.
But his latest patient was returned to him the same day that it healed enough to take to the skies.
He spent two months caring for a brownish-black pigeon his wife named “Pretty.” It was badly scored by a hawk’s attack.
“He was all ripped up,” Mirpuri said. He carefully measured out appropriate amounts of antibiotics, bandaged the bird and fed it. Finally, the pigeon grew strong enough to fly away.
It soared into the sky over Jay Street just in time to be snatched up again by a hawk. This time, the pigeon fluttered wildly, the hawk lost its hold and the pigeon fell to the ground near Taj Mahal.
Mirpuri is nursing it back to health again.
“Look, he likes me now,” he said. “He’s doing well. Another week, he’ll fly away.”
Other downtowners bring him birds when they’re injured and many stop by to peer at the pigeons when he has one healing in front of his store.
Now they’re trying to help him because he has recently picked up a pigeon that is beyond his basic medicine.
The light-colored pigeon, named “Apricot,” has a broken wing. So far, Mirpuri hasn’t found a vet who is willing to try to set it.
“They tell me they don’t take pigeons. I tell them, just fix the wing, I’ll pay you,” he said. “I try to call many of them, they wouldn’t take him.”
He’s calling wildlife specialists now in hopes of finding one to set the wing.
But even as he cares for the injured prey, he doesn’t have any animosity for the hawks that left his birds in this condition.
“There’s a few hawks here. But I guess that’s nature. They’ve got to eat too,” he said. “But when they fall from the claws, who takes care of it? He isn’t dead. He’s hurt. You can’t leave him lying there.”
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Categories: Schenectady County