Photo of a pigeon sitting on a hospital patient circulating with false claims

Sanjog Shiwakoti / May 20, 2021

An eight years old photo from Athens, Greece is circulating among Nepali social media users with false claims.

An image of a pigeon sitting on an elderly lying in hospital bed is being shared widely on Facebook for the past few days. The photo, purportedly taken by a nurse recently, has been shared along with a post claiming that no one came to see the sick man but a pigeon was a regular visitor.

The post reads as follows:

“According to the nurse who took this picture, the elderly got admitted at the hospital three days ago. None of his family members, relatives or friends have contacted the hospital inquiring about him so far. But for around two days now a pigeon has been coming here every so often. It lands on the bed and then flies away. It was later discovered that the old man used to sit on the bench in the garden next to the hospital and feed the pigeon every day.”

Hundreds of Facebook users have shared the photo along with the claim. The post and the photo shared by Pradip Sapkota on the public Facebook group ‘TU Students’, consisting 418,000 members, has received more than 1,100 responses and has been shared 261 times.

The same photo and claim shared by the official fan page of’s editor-in-chief Diya Chand, which has more than 2.3 million followers, has received more than 500 responses and 48 shares. The media related Facebook page called Nepali Khabar, which has more than 1.4 million followers, and Ujyalo, which has more than 47,000 followers, have also shared the photo along with the claim here and here. The same content has been shared on Twitter as well.

South Asia Check ran a ‘reverse image search’ of the photo and found that the original photo was posted almost eight years ago on the photo and video hosting website The photo clicked in Athens, Greece by photographer Loannis Protonotarius was taken on October 19, 2013. On Flickr, Protonotarius replying to others, commented that his father used to occupy the bed next to this patient.

The photo was first published on by Greek photographer Loannis Protonotarius on October 19, 2013

Earlier, similar claims were spread in various countries including the United States and India. The online media The Quint and USA Today have also fact-checked the viral claim.

Speaking to The Quint, Protonotarius said that while staying at the Red Cross Hospital of Athens, Greece where his father was admitted, he noticed a pigeon sitting on the next bed patient who was sleeping and clicked the photo.

So it becomes clear that the photo is almost eight years old and was not taken by a nurse as claimed in the Facebook posts. Since the photographer has also mentioned that after the incident his father was shifted to the intensive care unit and he didn’t see the man or the pigeon again, we cannot say whether the pigeon was the only and a regular visitor to the man or he used to feed pigeons. But as Protonotarius has told Lead Stories that no hospital or medical personnel would allow street birds, which carry many diseases, to come near patients every now and then, it is likely that the claim that the pigeon was a regular visitor was also made up.

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