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Young flappy bird (owners)

UNDER HIS WING: Mr Ihsan is part of a growing group of young people who have taken to keeping birds as pets. He has 14 of them, and his weekends are mostly spent with his birds.


    Jul 10, 2014

    Young flappy bird (owners)

    MOHAMMAD Ihsan lives in a three-room Housing Board flat with 14 others - birds, that is.

    When he is home, they are perched on a wooden stand or roam freely in his living room, and when he is out, they are kept in seven cages.

    The 26-year-old is part of a growing group of young people who have taken to keeping birds as pets.

    Gone are the days when the bird-keepers were typically elderly men who sit on red plastic chairs, watching their caged songbirds while chatting with one another.

    Some young ones are now hooked. Among Mr Ihsan's colourful collection are love birds, cockatiels and an African grey parrot.

    His interest in birds started with a stint as a photographer at the Jurong Bird Park, and he bought a cockatiel 21/2 years ago.

    "As time went on, I thought, 'Wah, I want different colours,' " the multimedia trainer told My Paper.

    His weekends are mostly spent with his birds, and he sometimes takes them to bird gatherings, where they attract a lot of attention, he said.

    And, sometimes, too much attention.

    "There was once I had my back to the birds, and when I turned around, there was a woman grabbing one," he said. She then put it down hastily and stalked off.

    Parrots are now in demand, said Ms Zhao Meiling, who owns a bird and accessories shop, Mini Pet.

    She opened the shop three years ago with only songbirds, but, a year on, she decided to sell parrots. It was her interest in parrots that made her rear them for sale.

    She said demand for birds at her shop has grown 50 per cent over two years. She has more than 100 birds at any one time.

    Birds from the parrot family include the African grey, conures, budgies, cockatiels and love birds. They attract even the youngest of customers.

    So what's the draw? They are like dogs, said bird-keepers.

    They have different personalities, scream for attention, walk behind their owners everywhere and even attack others to protect their owners, bird-keepers said.

    Ms Zhao said that teenagers often come to her store after school, with many of them saving up their pocket money to buy their first bird, worth about $100.

    Macaws, colourful and seen as one of the most intelligent birds, may cost more than $10,000 each. Even then, they are snapped up.

    Ms Zhao, who runs the store with her father, also sells the odd unique bird. There is a toucan worth $3,500 waiting to be sold.

    She keeps in touch with bird owners and enthusiasts through Facebook.

    There are several Facebook groups for bird lovers, like BirdCraze.

    Mr Nicholas Poey, a moderator of the group, said it allows bird owners to seek help and learn from one another.

    Mr Ihsan, who is also in the group, said that people in the group are generally helpful.

    He said: "Sometimes, if their birds are missing, they post about it, and if we live nearby, or sometimes even if we don't, we will go down to look for the bird."