Singing bird contest, Suriname


Dawn breaks over a football field in Nieuw Nickerie. Stakes have been driven into the ground. Twenty burly men wait anxiously in a ring… then a row of caged birds begins to sing.

Suriname’s Sunday morning singing bird contests are big business. Everybody brings along their throatiest songbird (usually a tiny twa twa captured from the interior). Males are first teased with their favourite female to get them in the mood, then hung on stakes in cages and pitted against one another. The bird that sings the most melodiously for the longest is the winner.

Champion birds sell for up to $3000, so it’s no surprise that their welfare is paramount. The tiny tweeters listen to special CDs to learn the most desirable melodies and are walked out regularly to ‘take the air’.

Written by - Photo by Hornplayer

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