Parrot gatherings forge closer ties among neighbours

Parrot gatherings forge closer ties among neighbours
FUN: Mr Jeremy Leong (in blue T-shirt), 36, one of the organisers of the parrot gathering, showing off his bird.

It is the biggest display of free-flying parrots in Singapore, drawing visitors from as far away as Bukit Batok to the gathering in Sengkang.

Everyone, including those who do not own parrots, is free to interact with the birds.

Every Sunday, parrot owners in Sengkang gather at Block 221 Compassvale Lane.

The gatherings, which draw about 40 people and 20 parrots each week, was started by Mr Jeremy Leong, 36, and Mr Sloane Chettiarr, 40. Mr Leong, a business development director, bought his first two parrots in August last year.

He explained that parrots need exposure to the outside environment, so twice a week, he takes them out to sunbathe and wash them.

It was during one of these routine baths at a grass patch next to his void deck in October that Mr Leong met Mr Chettiarr, a fellow parrot lover.

They decided to meet regularly and bring their pets along, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It led to their neighbours, who also own parrots, joining in. It even spurred some who did not own parrots to buy their own.

When The New Paper visited one of these gatherings earlier this month, the majestic birds were performing various tricks such as offering a handshake with their claws, spreading their wings and lying down on command.

The parrots could also imitate voices.

Mr Chettiarr told TNP: "They are very observant creatures. For instance, whenever I accidentally kick my foot against something, I cry, 'Ow'.

DISPLAY

"My parrots noticed that, so now whenever I hurt my foot in the same way they go 'ow' before I do."

At the parrot gathering, Mr Chettiarr showed off his shamrock macaw, named King, in a flying display.

The bird's vibrant and colourful feathers are best appreciated when it spreads its wings to fly, he explained.

But the bird that really stole the show was one aptly named Prince, a white cockatoo that its owner, Mr Chettiarr, admitted was an attention-seeker.

Left alone, it danced and squawked to entice people to pick it up and play with it.

One of those who played with Prince was Sengkang resident Isobel Teo, 10, who came to the gathering alone.

Although she does not own any parrots, she said she loved these birds so much that she just had to attend the gathering.

Aside from allowing the birds some sun and fresh air, the gatherings have also brought the nieghbourhood closer, said Mr Leong.

"Before the gatherings, nobody knew each other. But now everyone is much friendlier and we know each other better."

ycchin@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 03, 2015.
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