Our TV tip: “Songbirds – The Golden Voices of Singapore

A bird that costs as much as a sports car, where can you get one? The answer is: in Singapore. The GEO reportage “Singing Birds – The Golden Voices of Singapore” draws a portrait of the bird-loving city-state in South East Asia and takes us behind the scenes of a singing competition in which only feathered participants compete.

from tim

Singapore – the land of the bird-mad

Singapore not only hosts regular bird song competitions, it also has a large number of bird clubs with several thousand members. Especially the men of the city-state are real bird watchers. They often spend every spare minute with their animals and prepare them with great passion for the big competitions at the weekend. Bird madness in Singapore goes so far that well over 100,000 Singapore dollars are paid for the best feathered choirboys. The sparrowhawks, whose singing is highly appreciated by both judges and the public, are considered particularly valuable and popular.

In the GEO reportage “Singing Birds – The Golden Voices of Singapore” filmmaker Cordula Stadter follows taxi driver Amir with her camera. He admits at first that he and some of his friends are downright addicted to the feathered animals and that he has to make up little white lies from time to time to avoid upsetting his wife when he has already bought a new bird for his private collection. Usually he then claims that he received the animal as a gift from a friend, he says mischievously. In his home in the high-rise jungle, Amir has set up his own bird farm where he regularly raises young birds.

In addition to Amir, the audience gets to know other extraordinary protagonists. First of all there is his 13-year-old daughter Amirah. To have more time for them, Amir quit his old job as a keeper. The girl would like to become a painter one day and helps in her father’s private zoo with care and feeding. The chirping in the house has a therapeutic effect on them. Amirah suffers from a severe bowel disease and reports that the birdsong calms her down when a new attack is imminent, thus preventing a worse course of the disease.


Old & new

When one of his bird cages needs repairing, Amir visits cage builder Uncle Toni. He is one of the few people in Singapore who still master the old craft, as most bird cages are now industrially manufactured. His own children are no longer interested in their father’s profession and are working in the IT industry, as Toni tells with a mixture of pride and melancholy. Environmental activist and bird detective Shane Chiok reports that the great love for birds also has its dark sides. Wild capture and sale of wild birds is strictly prohibited in Singapore, as some species have been threatened with extinction for some time. But because of the high profit margins, many pet shops do not follow the rules and continue to sell wild birds in their shops, which they unceremoniously declare as bred. With the help of analyses of the plumage and the creation of behavioural profiles, Shane is trying to track down the black sheep among the animal traders.

“Singvögel – Die goldenen Stimmen von Singapur” offers a fascinating insight into the scene of Singapore’s bird lovers and does not close its eyes to the social problems that have arisen mainly due to the extreme rental price development in the emerging republic in recent years. In addition, the TV team also dedicates a lot of screen time to the feathered voice athletes. You can find out for yourself which place Amir and his red-eared Bulbul Ramdan, whose singing reminds its owner of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, will take in the big singing competition at the end of the report, on 26 October at 9.35 a.m. and on 31 October at 7.25 a.m. at arte. It can also be easily accessed in the station’s media library.

Pictures: arte / © MedienKontor / Cordula Stadter


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