Songbirds in Vietnam. Everyone’s got one.
Walking the streets around our house, we came cross this busy morning activity. Many birds hanging on organised rows of metal framework. There was a silence and seriousness in the air as we stood to make sense of the activity. There were many men sitting across the road from these frames, in rows, and not speaking. Some just watching the birds, some on their mobile phones.. but no talking.
Every now and again, someone would get up and move their bird to another spot on the row. Sometimes the little bird cage was taken down, its cloth cover zipped over the cage, and the member left.
As a female, I was clearly intruding on this activity. A quick photo and I walked on.
Asking our friendly neighbours for some clarification of the activity, it seems the men meet in our street at least every morning, before the heat of the day sets in. It’s all about the birds sharing a song, learning new songs and connecting in this very busy Hoi An world.
I have since become aware of these singing birds, as we walk around the town. They hang outside homes, in workplaces, and on the walls along the street… even in one of the local mechanic repair shops the chirping can be heard above the noise of the tools. They chirp and sing, and are a noisy joy.
So what have I learned since writing this post?
This hobby is common throughout Vietnam. This Birdmen of Saigon article describe it well.
And guess what? It is now accepted that these popular songbirds have originated millions of years ago from the Australian noise makers – parrots and lyrebirds!
“We know Australian birds are special and the rest of the world does too. Songbirds like our lyrebird are the most amazing mimics on earth. Our parrots are incredibly smart and adaptable. Our pigeons eat fruit, move seeds and shape entire forests. But for most of the last century, scientists from the Northern Hemisphere assume that our birds are just a second-hand fauna, descended from theirs.” (http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4194557.htm)
As an Aussie living in this interesting place, I understand my fascination with this gentleman’s gentle and silent hobby that reaches all corners of Vietnam.