Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Playing Birds

Often, I would be asked a difficult question (at least I find it difficult to answer) -"why do you keep birds?"

How do you explain a "hobby"? where do one starts?
Bird keeping is a lot of hard work, I should caution any new beginners. And if one does not enjoy the "work", he better stays away from this "hobby". As for me, I enjoy all the process. First I get the raw material (the bird) - and the process of getting this "material" to work with is fun to begin with.... beg, steal or borrow hahaha! ("steal" shouldn't be taken literally - this is one entire topic by itself)
A little on the above process - this is where friends are made and enemies created ;)

Then finally I get the bird to work on, visualising realistically the best outcomes, then I set forth the journey.... conditioning, food, etc.... (improvising along the way). Basically reads.... work ....work ....work!
See - all basic needs have to be attended to: food, water, shelter and then for mental health.... bath, sun and interactions (depending on species).
So, where does the fun begin? My answer is it should be fun or made fun all the way. Some people view the molting period as the most boring phase of all, others thinks its the taking care of chicks. Its true to a certain degree, but one must come to terms with the reality - its is a natural process and it has to happen. So, better learn to enjoy the process.

Molting season could be an interesting event. Currently 80 to 90% of my birds are molting and when viewed as a transitionary period, it is exciting waiting for the outcomes after adjusting for their diet and additional vitamins (which for me is always in a perpetual flux - to the horror of most of my mentors, I should say). Its an occasion comparable to a caterpillar that is turning itself into a cocoon and awaiting the "big day" where it will transform to a beautiful or ugly butterfly.

For example, there is one Shama that has a long and short primary feather and after his molt, it is still uneven. Currently he is undergoing another molt and has dropped his primary tail feathers (one measured 8.4" and another 7.3") and the anticipation of the outcome adjusting for his new diet is a major event I am looking forward to (whatever the outcome).

Then there is the fun of interacting with the birds. Some I keep my distance, some I interact with more depending on whether I am training a pet or competition bird. Below is fun that actually looks fun hahaha! Apollo 6's first day learning to "play hand". My eventual expectation of him is free flying in the garden (after I take care of the neighbourhood cats problem muahahaha!)

Then there is the fun of interacting with the humans behind the birds. Gathering at places just to let the birds yell at each other and the owners gossip and bragging among themselves ;)

And not forgetting the adventure and fun of searching for the champion of cahmpions.... the many birds we have to audition and shortlist, the errors, trials, disappointment and euphoria.

Below is a video of a friendly "chai" at home. Birds from left to right: stiff toe, Troy's jambul and Chong's jambul. All have stories behind them. And knowing their stories and tracking their progress is an entertainment by itself.

Now, when I am asked again why I keep birds? I would be loss again for words to explain......

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