Chinese street finch

China is a huge country with a huge population, so trying to find a few falconers amongst 1.3 billion people is not easy. To make matters a little more difficult is the fact that the ruling party do not condone the ancient art of falconry, even though its very origin was probably from within its land.

To get anywhere I find one must first get amongst the people and try and gain their trust. The most logical place to start is within the bird and animal markets, here all sorts of dealers and buyers mix and a wealth of knowledge is available if only they feel they can trust you.

The Chinese love their birds as songsters or as just caged pets. Occasionally you can meet a street birdman who uses finches to attract attention and possible a little money as they perform tricks.

This gentleman was flicking small coloured plastic discs onto the sidewalk and his finch would fly down and pick it up to return it to his hand for a few seeds reward. This was followed by small coins which were more difficult because of the weight for the finch to pick up and fly with. As the crowd gathered they became involved and tossed coins onto the sidewalk for the finches.

I meet this man as we walked to the largest bird market in the city a place that I hoped would yield some information.