Wednesday Wanderings and Wonderings.

The hobby of Bird singing…. in time of social distancing.

A couple months ago while walking the Coast-to-Coast trail we walked not far from the Kebun Bahru Birdsinging club and I mentioned it to my fellow walkers. I was surprised none of them knew what I was taking about (one said she had heard about it but never saw it) so I made them do a little detour to show it to them.

We came across it not long after arriving in Singapore in 2016 so I’m always surprised people don’t know about these little gems.

The century-old Singaporean tradition of bird-keeping is itself an endangered species, its continuing survival dependant on a small community of passionate enthusiasts.

In an expanse of parkland just north of central Singapore, dozens of ornate cages dangle from tall poles, swaying gently in the breeze. In the cages perch an array of chirping songbirds; at ground level, their owners mill around, drinking tea and chatting. the tradition is social: it’s about a close-knit community of enthusiasts bonding over the intricacies of their hobby.

The Kebun Baru Bird Singing Club is the largest bird-singing and display arena in Southeast Asia – but they’re not the only surviving practitioners of the hobby. “There are many little pockets of bird displays all over the country,” explains Robin Chua. “These are often confined to one or two types of songbirds. They are usually on the ground floor of a block of public flats or just a small structure on the ground for hanging a few cages.” Locally, these are known as ‘bird corners’.

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