Birdsong Fans Flock to Pattani Contest

Nasueroh
2016.02.23
Pattani, Thailand
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The Pattani Java Dove Charitable Competition in Maung district of Pattani drew hundreds of birds, Feb. 20 and 21, 2016. Nasueroh/BenarNews

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Villagers enjoy listening to the doves' songs. Nasueroh/BenarNews

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Thai soldiers patrol during the contest. Nasueroh/BenarNews

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Judges tally up scores for the birds. Nasueroh//BenarNews

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Ready for the competition. Nasueroh/BenarNews

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Bueraheng Mama, a native of Pattani, leaves with his two birds after being unable to compete. Nasueroh/BenarNews

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Bueraheng Mama shows his Java dove. Nasueroh/BenarNews

For hundreds of years Java doves have been kept as pets by Thailand’s southerners and aficionados in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia who fall in love with the birds’ cooing – so much so that prized birds can sell for thousands of dollars.

The best-known Java dove is nicknamed “Super Man” and hails from Bunnang Star district in Thailand's Yala province. This sweet singer is valued at a whopping 3 million baht (U.S. $84,000). Regardless of its value, Super Man’s owner considers himself lucky and says he will never sell his bird.

On Feb. 20-21, the Association of Java Doves in Southern Thailand organized a contest in Maung district, in Pattani province. More than 1,700 birds were entered by hundreds of Malaysians, Singaporeans and Indonesians, and they competed in five categories: low tone, medium tone, high tone, mixed tone and rookies.

While the contest offered prizes including a motorcycle, devotees see this as a hobby. Thai bird lovers can reap some rewards to be used for bird breeding, bird food and materials.

Wichai Reungreongsakulrit, chairman of the Association of Java Doves in Southern Thailand, said Java dove is more popular every year and singing contests are listed on the calendar of the Tourism Authorities of Thailand.

“The prices of Java doves are still strong despite rubber price drop. A baby bird with good pedigree sell at 200,000 baht ($5,600),” he said.

However, Direk Dodaso, who heads a dove association in Songkhla province's Jana district, said that in the past two years, exports of doves to ASEAN countries had slowed over bird flu concerns because many airlines had banned pet cargoes. The measure remains in place though bird flu threats are over.

He said those exporting Java doves to Singapore and Indonesia needed a fast means of transportation to ensure they would not die during the trip.

“We lost opportunities to make a hundred million baht over the past two years. Singaporean and Indonesians want to buy birds but cannot take them on the plane,” he said.

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