My father has an interesting hobby. He raises “merbok” birds for birdsong competitions. Merboks or doves in English are small birds, about the size of an adult’s hand. They have short grey feathers and a sharp beak.
My father has been raising these merbok birds for forty years. The competitions take place at a field called Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur. This field is close to the Lake Gardens and National Monument. The field is named after the bird song competition. The name is still used today.
Father hangs the bird cages in our living room to keep the birds safe from rain and the hot sun. We cover the cages with a piece of cloth. My mother makes the special cloth cover for the cage. The cover fits over the cage so that the birds can sleep well. My mother puts a zip on one side of the cover. We can carefully put it on and take it off without scaring the birds. When I take off the covers, the birds will call to me with a sweet song. They sound so melodious. These birds will also bow their heads when they sing.
Cleaning the bird cages is my daily job. It is not something I like doing. It is a messy job. First, I have to change the newspaper at the bottom of each cage. It is the dirtiest part of the job. The paper is usually full of bird droppings! The tray at the bottom of the cage can be pulled out. That makes it easier to change the dirty newspaper to fresh new ones. Then I refill the cups in each birdcage with clean water and bird seed. I carefully raise the little bird cage door. I raise it just wide enough for my hand to slip through. I have to be very careful not to let the bird fly out.
I also often have to sweep up the bird seeds that fall on our living room floor. I think they are very clever birds as they know how to pick the good seeds and throw out the bad ones.
I do these jobs because I love my father. My dad can make scared birds be quiet. He tries to make them sing by whistling to them. He spends many hours sitting with the birds. He taught them to obey his voice and whistle.
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raise (v) – to take care until a living being is big
specially (adv) – for one reason or use
melodious (adj) – very pleasant to listen to
obey (v) – to follow what is asked or ordered, or to behave according to a rule, law, or instructions