This morning I took a break from mountain climbing to visit Suizenji Jojuen, a 17th century garden established by the Hosokawa samurai clan, who ruled Kumamoto at that time.
At the entrance to the garden, a gentleman sells food for the koi and birds that inhabit the park — the English translation of his sign reads “Bait for Dove,” which sealed the deal for me. I love birds (including the ones called “doves” in Japan but known as pigeons in the USA) and jump at the chance to feed them.
That being said…I didn’t anticipate the unusual friendliness of these doves. They ran to me the moment they saw the bag of popcorn in my hand…
And within moments, a couple flew up to roost on my arm and eat from my hand.
After each handful, I gently lowered my arm toward the ground so the birds would jump down – at which point another one would launch itself to the “feeding perch.”
To my surprise (and relief) I didn’t get pooped on once.
The doves were surprisingly gentle feeders. They never pecked my hands. Their feathers felt even softer than I expected, and while they didn’t put up with much touching, they were happy to sit on my arms (and later, knees) and coo at me even when the food was gone.
After spending a couple of hours enjoying the garden, I stopped to feed the ducks and koi at the far end of the park–but within moments, the doves figured out what was going on and joined us, hoping for another snack.
Of course, I obliged.
The park alone would have been enough to make this day a wonderful, restful experience, but getting to interact with wild animals always fills my heart with joy.
Do you like feeding the animals at parks and other places? Or are animal encounters something you prefer to leave for someone else?