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Bird Keeping In China

See how birds impact Chinese culture

By Beth Clark

ChinaIn China, a flock of pigeons flush from a perch on a city skyscraper. As they sweep into the sky, harmonious chords fill the air, and busy pedestrians pause and look up. In a unique Chinese tradition, small bamboo whistles with varying pitches are attached to the pigeons’ tails. The resulting music mesmerizes those who watch.

Beginning just after dawn each day, parks are filled with people who proudly display their pet birds. The cages are hung in trees and the parks are filled with song as people and birds socialize.

A boy trains a sparrow hawk to hunt for him. He rides his bike in a busy marketplace, holding the bird in his hand. When the boy spies a sparrow or quail, he launches his pet for the chase. The bird flies in and out of throngs of people and even into street traffic to catch his prey.

On an apartment balcony, a small girl stands on a chair, reaching up to the hanging bird cage. Using chopsticks, she carefully feeds a grasshopper to her pet. The thrush bursts into its melodious whistled song and is immediately joined by other nearby pets.

**For the full article, pick up the August 2008 issue of BIRD TALK**

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