After wandering by the Flower Market, you encounter a tall shrine with a garden stretched behind it. From it, you hear birds singing in passion with older men laughing and strolling with a cage in his hands. This is the Bird Market in Mong Kok, Hong Kong and here are my five things I know about it. Hopefully you will learn a bit more about Hong Kong.
A garden of 3000 square meters designed to resemble a traditional Chinese garden was constructed into what we call the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden dedicated for birds and bird-keepers. The area is referred to as the Bird Market and has more than 70 distinct stalls offering exotic birds, bamboo bird cages, food, and other bird-related things.
Bird Keeping Culture
Bird keeping is a disappearing culture and such a garden dedicated to it is extremely hard to find these days. The bird keeping culture derives from the Qing dynasty (1636-1912) when soldiers entertained themselves with songbirds' melodies. It is still a culture that is practiced in Hong Kong as birds are an easy pet to have even in a small flat, unlike dogs and cats.
The swarming crickets and worms are definitely the LEAST thing I look forward to when visiting the Bird Market. They are usually extremely cheap and unnecessarily [for me] lively. In fact, you might be able to see bird owners feeding live crickets and worms early in the morning!
The garden is open from around 7am so if you are interested, try visiting!
Birds, birds, birds!
Parrots, orange-beaked songbirds, chinese thrushes, and cockatiels are some of the birds you might encounter in the Bird Market. You are free to visit to look at the birds or even purchase them as a pet. Many of them don't have labels for what birds they are so ask the stall owners first.
The Last Hand-made Bird Cages
Chan Lok-choi, the last hand-made birdcage maker, sits in the stall. Though he focuses on repair work and caring for his pets today, he has been creating birdcages from scratch for about 63 years. The bird cages come in different sizes and shapes, some being 1.5m tall and takes several months to build one.