Birding in Singapore

A city of contrasts is my host city. Birds flying in unison, free. Birds singing in a cacophony, caged.

This week thousands of Asian openbill storks have been spotted flying across the nation. Thanks to Au’s father for his photos of what he spotted.


But birding is also a pastime favored by some older men here in Singapore. While trying to deliver our food hamper earlier this month we stumbled upon a neighborhood where birds and all things related to the keeping of birds could be bought and where birders congregate to listen to caged birds sing. These places are called “bird-singing corners” and the groups who gather “bird-singing clubs“.

Here birds are misted to help them thrive in the tropical sun…away from the forests of their origin.
Our friend Noah poses to help you see how large a bird-singing “corner” can be.

I think of the poem by Maya Angelou, Caged Bird, and ponder…

Two stanzas jump out at me:

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind   

and floats downstream   

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

and then later…

The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom.

But perhaps all of our cities are ones of contrast – cities of caged birds and cities of free birds. Which bird do you identify with? Is it possible for a caged bird to become free? And what would it take?

The one whose birth we celebrate this week tells us

The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1)

Who do you know who needs this good news of liberty and freedom?

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