All photos by Chantelle D’mello
With reporting from Riham Sheble
With the fasting month of Ramadan over, and Eid celebrations around the country winding down, residents of Doha – both human and animal – are finally getting back to their regular eating schedules.
After a month-long hiatus, local restaurant Aush Al Bulbul, located in a busy Al Sadd street opposite Popeye’s, has resumed its tradition of feeding hundreds of pigeons each day.
Speaking to Doha News, Abdulaziz Al-Sayyid Ali, a 36-year-old Egyptian expat who has been working at the restaurant for the past 12 years, explained that the practice originated well before his time.
“When I came here, the store was across the road. We moved to the current location 10 years ago. The owners who are Egyptians, have been feeding the birds ever since they opened,” he said.
To him, the action is a way of showing gratitude to God by feeding His creations.
Pigeons are a common sight in Qatar, and there are apparently five different species of the birds here. Flocks of them can be seen gathering in certain hotspots around the country, including on the Corniche and outside popular eateries.
In Arabic, Aush Al Bulbul roughly translates into “nest of nightingales.” However, contrary to popular belief, though the restaurant provides a feeding ground for pigeons, it does not serve them on its menu.
Rather, it is widely known in Qatar for a variety of dishes, including shwarmas, falafels, eggs, foul (beans), potatoes, hamburgers, sandwiches and chicken and beef liver.
The pigeons flock to Aush Al Bulbul twice a day, first turning up in the early morning to receive their supply of grain, cereal and nuts. They stay on the pavement outside the restaurant until around 10am, and then return at around 4:30pm for a second feeding, staying until sunset.
According to Ali, food fed to the pigeons isn’t provided by the restaurant, but is instead donated by customers and other benefactors who store grain in bags inside the eatery.
“We only provide water. Everything else, people give us,” he said.
I’m shaking my head in dismay…..Pigeons are disease-spreading birds and were involved in the transmitting of bird (avian) flu. They are widely regarded as ‘pests’. So why are they being fed and encouraged to gather around the restaurants and residential areas of Al Sadd?
Though there are diseases that can be contracted through interaction with pigeon droppings, you are incorrect in stating that they are a vector for avian bird flu. They neither carry nor spread it.
I stand corrected on the bird (avian) flu, Restie. However, they are a
health hazard and should not be encouraged to gather. The amount of
food they consume dictates how rapidly they breed. In Europe, food
deprivation is used to control the breeding otherwise cities would be
overrun with them. If we are not careful, we will end up with the same situation is Doha.
They are welcome in Doha. This has been happening for 15+ years. The population is stable.
we need the feral pigeons to feed the ever increasing feral cats. I feed street cats, rehoming some when I can (youngsters mainly) and the pigeons even come to steal the cat kibble. The cats don’t mind, it supplements their diet judging by the feathers
LOL. Yes, I must say the pigeons provide my 8 cats with endless entertainment. Good to meet someone else who feeds the street cats. I’m currently fostering 3 little kittens whose mother died in my arms. Very sad. Looking for homes for them but it is difficult just now with a lot of people still away for summer. Love your profile photo!
Glad to know there is another voice in the wilderness. I have 9 rescued who are now fulltime house cats and I must say they dot miss the street at all. We also have 5 full time garden cats, and the adoptees who we entice in, feed up, vaccinate, neuter and rehome. When we eventually retire from Qatar, I think we will have charter a plane to get them all home.
Anyone out there want a couple of 4 month old kittens, females, adorable, vaccinated, I will pay for their spaying.
Really scraping the barrel here guys, surely there are better things to report on.
Come on that’s a bit unfair. At least it highlights they get better meals than the labourers in Qatar….
Fasting birds? Will they get into heaven?
How nice to hear a story of ethical treatment to animals in this country! Kudos to Aush Al Bulbul!
This is not ethical treatment to animals. It’s encouraging breeding of disease-carrying pests. Ethical treatment to animals would be closing down the animal section at Souq Waqif; opening animal shelters for feral / abandoned animals; funding trap / neuter / return (TNR) programmes to control the feline population…..
Many religious groups including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs feed pigeons for religious reasons. Many older Sikhs feed pigeons ceremoniously to honor the high priest and warrior Guru Govind Singh who was a known friend of the pigeon (or rock dove). Some Sikhs also feed pigeons because they believe that when they are reincarnated they will never go hungry if they have fed pigeons in their previous life. Other religious groups in India believe that when a person dies his or her soul assumes the form of a bird (normally a pigeon) and therefore by feeding birds they are caring for the souls of their departed ancestors. The pigeon is revered in India with huge flocks numbering many thousands of birds being fed daily at Hindu temples in town and city centers throughout the country. In both eastern and western societies many of the most entrenched pigeon-related problems in urban areas are considered to be caused, certainly in part, by religious feeding of the birds. In the Christian religion the pigeon is both a symbol of peace and of the Holy Spirit.
It’s a dove actually, not a pigeon. Pigeons are also known as flying rats.
Narrated Anas bin Malik RadhiAllahu anhu: Allah’s Apostle SallAllahu alaihi wasallam said, “There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.”
SubhanAllah, so many lessons unfolding as one peers transfixed from the hotel window looking down at the antics of the pigeons in the courtyard outside the Ka’aba. (lime dot, on the photo of the model of Jabal Umar in the previous post) People buying bags of wheat from the numerous sellers, (who sometimes seem to out number the pigeons!) scattering it around the clock tower. Pigeons flutter, gobble and depart, as the army of sweepers brush the grains in concentrated piles.
To quote someone with a very similar name on the plane hoax thread: “where did religion come in this topic…it is no where mentioned”.
I guess it’s okay when you do it, but not when others do?
Interesting. So why the inhumane treatment of animals at Souq Waqif then?
Good examples of ethical treatment to animals. Don’t forget that many stray and feral cats and dogs also carry diseases. Does this mean we shouldn’t help them? Of course not. An act of kindness is an act of kindness, no matter how small. I have witnessed countless acts of animal cruelty in Qatar, even by small children whose parents encourage the behavior, which is why I am grateful for this story.
Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul’s
The little old bird woman comes
In her own special way to the people she calls,
“Come, buy my bags full of crumbs;
Come feed the little birds,
Show them you care
And you’ll be glad if you do
The young ones are hungry
The nests are so bare
All it takes is tuppence from you
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag
Feed the birds,” that’s what she cries
While overhead, her birds fill the skies
All around the cathedral the saints and apostles
Look down as she sells her wares
Although you can’t see it,
You know they are smiling
Each time someone shows that he cares
Though her words are simple and few
Listen, listen, she’s calling to you
“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag”
Glad to see someone else is feeding street cats………