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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Cheep thrills for Pakistan bird owners
By Haroon Rashid
BBC correspondent in Peshawar

Bird owners from across Pakistan gathered in the north western city of Peshawar to find out who ruled the roost when it came to singing.

More than 450 bird enthusiasts, and their coveted black partridges, were in town for the fifth All-Pakistan Black Partridge Singing Competition.

 Partridge Singing Competition
A television set was up for grabs for the winner

The competition is conducted in three timed phases.

Partridges that do not chirp in the first 10-minute round are knocked out of the contest.

This year, around 100 birds were not up to scratch.

In the five-minute second round 200 dropped out leaving 155 for final one-hour final.

The contest was close.

Two quiet

The black partridge belonging to Ustad Rahim, from Kohat, chirped 239 times, winning his owner the title and a 14-inch television set.

Missing out by two chirps was a black partridge, from Bannu, chirping 237 times.

'Almighty, you're great' is what (the birds) say again and again
Raza Mohammad
contestant

His owner, Farooq Khan, won a trophy and a Chinese bicycle.

The annual event is held in peak summer when the birds start singing the most.

Many believe they in fact sing in praise of Almighty Allah.

Contestant Raza Mohammad, from Abbottabad, said: "Subhan teri Qudrat (Almighty, you're great) is what they say again and again."

Seventy-five-year-old Raza has been keeping black partridges for the last 50 years.

"I got the craze at an age when I had not had a beard," he said.

Distraction

He said the birds need extra care and a special diet.

"Every day I spend over four hours with the bird, taking it out to the fields and giving him special food that includes almonds," he said.

 Partridge Singing Competition
Bird keeping is a popular hobby in Pakistan
Organisers of the competition have a wider social agenda than attracting people to take up bird-keeping.

"We want to promote this centuries-old tradition and stop people from indulging in drugs and other dreaded activities," Mohammad Ali Akundzada, the event's chief organizer told the BBC.

The response from black partridge fans was better than the organisers expected.

"We had sent out invitations to people all over the country," he said.

"Over 450 came from all nooks and corners of the country. People from far off places such as Bhakar, Okara and Dera Ismail Khan," he said.

District authorities have started taking a keen interest in promoting such local sports events, but organisers said they would appreciate more help.


SEE ALSO:
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22 Mar 01  |  Health
India hawks 'not Pakistani spies'
07 Mar 00  |  South Asia



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