August 13, 2016
2679 VIETNAM (Southeast) - Birdsong enthusiasts in Saigon
Keeping songbirds is very popular among the Vietnamese, probably a way of bringing nature to the city. Enthusiasts gather in some of the city’s parks early in the morning before work, showing off their latest feathered acquisitions. Some people only bring a cage or two, others almost more than they can carry, but the goal is the same - to have the birds learn songs from other birds while the owners read newspapers, have a coffee or pass jealous glances at the most accomplished singers.
There’s definitely a social aspect to this unique past time, and in Saigon there are even bird cafes, where song bird enthusiasts could bring their birds for a play date, avian style. These birds are brought in from the wild and while nature gives them their own songs, having them around other birds of other species speeds up the learning process. Owners hang the cages up on specially made stands.
Birds start singing after 1-3 months. The second step is having them be able to sing in front of people. To that end, tables are littered with cages. Others are placed in the middle courtyard. Back home, the care of these birds borders on the obsessive. Daily baths, alternating sun and shade and meticulously plucking legs off of hapless grasshoppers is all part of the ritual.
The price of these birds can range from just a few dollars for untried singers straight from the forest to reportedly more than a hundred thousand dollars for a rare albino bird with great pipes. Bird competitions are also organised by clubs around the city. Those that place in the top three stand to fetch their owners a handsome sum. In fact, it’s rare to keep an animal for very long. They’re often traded as owners look for a certain type to fill a niche in their collection.
About the stamps
The stamps are part of a series of definitive stamps, Architectures, landscapes of Việt Nam, about which I wrote here.
The Birdmen of Saigon - Fly, Icarus, Fly
Sent from Ho Chi Minh City (Southeast / Vietnam), on 07.07.2016