Bird Singing Competitions in Phuket
What are those Bird Singing Competitions in Phuket? We stopped at one of these mysterious events held in Phuket Town on Sunday mornings. All these men are shouting and gesturing in the direction of a hundred tiny wooden cages. What is all the fuss about? We saw these events in Vietnam and even in China, but we never took the time to answer until now.
There can be different competitions involving different birds, but that day was dedicated to the tiny but highly popular red-whiskered bulbul. This is serious business, not so much about the poetic beauty of a bird song: big money is involved. These tiny protected birds can cost a lot, more than 200,000 baht for the best performers, and competition entry is around 1 to 2,000 baht per bird with a top prize of up to 30,000 baht!
A crowd of supporters and bird’s owners gather behind a rope some three meters away from high perched cages, a referee stands halfway, and a judge is overlooking the whole competition from atop an elevated platform. Staff keep a record of the scores on a giant board while police keep a paternal eye on possible heated discussions. And heated it is! Have you ever been to a Muay Thai (Thai boxing) match? If you did, then you know how a bird singing competition sounds like.
Owners loudly call their bird’s name, encouraging them to produce the right tones while making the right moves around the cage while the referee counts and points to the winners. It’s lively and surprising; we wondered how the birds could sing with so much activity and shout around.
How Bird Singing Competition works:
1. Singing in 4 Rounds
This challenge consists of four rounds. In each round, the bird has 19 or 25 seconds to sing, and his song must have at least three trills, and birds should sing at least eight times within the four rounds. The judge measures the time by floating a tiny bowl with a hole in the water tank.
That’s is how they called it, but it means full performance. Here, the bird will be evaluated on voice melody, quality, clarity, duration and modulation. In addition, the way the bird jumps around the cage play a significant role in the scoring.
3. Golden Voice Competition
Birds are judged based on their song tune and vocalisation, or ‘phrase’: 25 points for the melody and 25 points for the phrase. This part of the contest is often subjective and subject to heated discussion.
Where to see a Bird Singing Competition? In Phuket Town, next to the Esso Gas Station, Opposite Satree School at the Intersection of Thepkasatree Road and Damrong Road or near Chalong, opposite Phuket Zoo on Sundays.