Thursday, 17 November 2011

Harvesting orange-headed thrush Zoothera citrina chicks in Bali, Indonesia: magnitude, practices and sustainability

Ign Kristiantoa1 and Paul Jepsona2 c1

a1 Kutilang Indonesia Foundation, Sarihardjo, Ngaglik, Sleman, DI. Yogyakarta. Indonesia

a2 School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY. UK.


Market demand for the orange-headed thrush Zoothera citrina, a prestigious songbird competition species in Indonesia, is supplied by chicks harvested from Bali Island. Using ethnographic and interview surveys conducted during the 2008–2009 breeding season we established the structure and scale of this trade and investigated means to improve its sustainability in two districts of Bali. We found that well-organized agent networks supplied an estimated 116,000 chicks worth EUR 3.175 million from Bali during the 6-month harvest season. Chicks are harvested when 4–16 days old and exported from Bali when 16–18 days old. Of 50 nests followed 60% were harvested and just 6% fledged young. Farmers deploy techniques to improve thrush food supply but lack practices to ensure continued recruitment to the thrush population. The practice of thrush harvesting started in the mid 1990s and is not yet regulated by the traditional institutions (Subak) that govern collective farming practices. Three networks determine the sustainability of the practice: (1) the fraternity of Indonesian songbird keepers, (2) agricultural agent networks, and (3) traditional village institutions. We identify the potential for coordinated forms of self-regulation and thrush population management by Subak and key groups involved in songbird contests. Furthermore, we argue that this would more likely enhance sustainability than interventions by government conservation agencies.

(Received May 19 2010)

(Reviewed August 23 2010)

(Accepted October 08 2010)


  • Bali;
  • bird harvesting;
  • community-based resource management;
  • customary institutions;
  • governance;
  • Indonesia;
  • wildlife trade;
  • Zoothera citrina


c1 School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY. UK. E-mail

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina and the avian X-factor

In 2005 an Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina called Valium scored a hat-trick by winning all three of the top classes at an Indonesian national songbird contest. The bird's owner received an offer of Rp 250 million (€18,000) but declined to sell. He didn't need the money: what he valued was the pride and prestige accrued from owning a champion songbird, which five years ago was hatched in a forest on Java. This is the world of kicau-mania, a way of enjoying birds quite different from the western focus on bird finding and identification, scarcity and counting. The Indonesian passion for songbirds is centred on the aesthetic of song, form and posture, and the song contests are where tastes are developed and judged, where reputations are made, and where men let off a bit of steam.

The Orange-headed Thrush is the star species but nine others have official song contest classes. In order of popularity and prestige these are: Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach, White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus, Oriental Magpie Robin C. saularis. Chestnut-capped Thrush Z. interpres, Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus, Canary Serinus canarius, Lovebird Agapomis spp., Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati, Blue-winged Leafbird C. cochinchinensis and Hill Blue Flycatcher Cyornis banyumas. Canaries, lovebirds, Straw-headed Bulbuls and the majority of Chestnut-capped Thrushes are now captive-bred on Java, but the remainder are caught from the wild.

Competing Zebra Doves Geopelia striata is a traditional Javanese pastime but it is only in the last 30 years that competing songbirds has become popular. The hobby was started during the 1970s by a group of bird enthusiasts among the Jakarta elite who waged fabulous prizes on the outcome of the song contests. Initially imported Chinese laughingthrushes (Hwamei Garulax canorus and Black-chinned Laughingthrush G. chinensis) and Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea were the focus of interest. But as the hobby's popularity spread, native species were included and came to replace the-Chinese species when their import into Indonesia was banned 'in 2000 as a precaution against bird flu.

As a competitive songbird. Orange-headed Thrush has it all; it is beautifully coloured and exquisitely proportioned, with a powerful and varied voice, and it postures when it sings. When a separate class for Orange-headed Thrush was introduced in 1994 the judges initially penalised posturing whilst singing. But the aesthetic of the thrush's "drunken trance" was impossible to ignore and in 1996 they reversed their position. Today the bird's performance style is a key part of the competition. However as Achun Owen, hobbyist of the year 2006, noted, "song volume and repertoire are the main criteria—they are a must and performance is optional. However, judges are always-seeking innovation and if they see a new posture they will be drawn to the bird and then listen to it more intently."

A typical class at a songbird contest comprises 30-40 birds in cages hung on a metal frame set a metre apart. The six accredited judges narrow down a class using small flags to indicate their assessment of each bird's song continuity, volume and repertoire. After 20-30 minutes the judges will confer and each will select his top three birds with flags worth 100, 50 and 25 points respectively. The bird with the highest score wins prize money of between Rp 5-40 million (€360-2,880) depending on the status of class and the contest. The birds sing and are judged amidst a perimeter of owners and supporters encouraging their birds with whistles and waves, exhorting the judges to listen longer to their bird and shouting remonstrations when they fail to do so. Security, hired from the local police or army command, ensures that perimeter fences are not breached!

There are probably between 5,000 and 7,000 "hardcore" hobbyists who regularly travel to songbird contests in other cities and provinces in Java, and maybe 55,000 to 75,000 more who compete in local contests. Within this fraternity, the names of past champions and their owners are famous and written about in national and local tabloid newspapers dedicated to the hobby. Between 1999 and 2000 three thrushes dominated—a bird named Wallet who spread his tail while singing, another named Dashat who sang with crest erect, and lastly Zemorana who "shook like an earthquake" (and whose owner did sell him for €18,000!). In 2001 and 2002, the talked-about champion, and another named after a European footballer, was Owen. This bird possessed extraordinary vocal power and stamina, and achieved the feat of winning five consecutive classes on one day! Recent champions Kudalumping and Badi swing their head wide and turn it behind as they let forth with song.

Demand for Orange-headed Thrushes is believed to have caused "rolling" local extinctions across west and east Java during the late 1990s. When agents looked for new sources of birds on Bali, village authorities quickly passed customary laws that make it an offence for outsiders to trap birds on farmers' land. Responding to obtaining this security of ownership, farmers harvest chicks and leave the parent stock. My preliminary assessment of this practice suggests that about 20,000 Orange-headed Thrush chicks are harvested from 5,700 farms during each breeding season lasting from November through to May. Each day local agent's make a two-to three-hour circuit by motorbike to buy chicks from farmers. The agent sells on the chicks to agents in east Javan cities when they are 17 or 18 days old, but before he does so he selects out chicks that are definitely male and possess a set of six characteristics that mark them out as good prospects for song contests. These are ringed and sold at a premium to specialist trainers who rear the birds through their first two moults (at 9 and-14 months) when they develop their song.

Serious hobbyists buy from these trainers and will pay between €150 and €350 depending on their assessment of the bird's potential. They train the thrush on and start entering it in song contests. The wealthier hobbyists employ a personal bird trainer (known as a joki) who nurtures the bird into peak condition through careful feeding, bathing and light regimes and training with other birds. The owner and trainer together plan the bird's career. If it shows promise by consistently coming in the top three at contests in different cities its value quickly enters the €3,000-4,500 bracket. This is because top prospects are sought after by "testers" who scout and assess birds for the seriously wealthy leaders of top bird clubs.

This popular pastime of keeping, training and competing native songbirds is a positive cultural and economic force in the cities of Java, Bali and East Kalimantan. It contributes at least €85 million to the economies of the six largest cities on Java and Bali, provides spaces where people of different social classes and ethnicities come together in a shared interest, and gives birds a prominent place in contemporary urban culture. In addition, it is a fascinating and sophisticated mode of appreciating birds which could enrich and inform other bird-loving cultures. The downside, of course, is that it creates a demand for wild-caught birds. A group of individuals within and outside the hobby are leading an effort to switch the supply to captive-bred birds through the introduction of a bird certification system and promoting the prestige of "ring classes" (classes of birds that are captive-bred and hence ringed) at song contests. The songbird fraternity is receptive to concerns about the impact of their hobby on wild bird populations and my hope is that the rich dialogue that has opened might lead to an Indonesian bird conservation ethos that blends western concerns about scarcity with an Asian focus on aesthetics.


The information summarised in this article is the result of collaborative action research involving the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Nielsen-Indonesia, Burung Indonesia, Pelestarian Burung Indonesia and Aksenta. The research is funded 'by Defra's Darwin Initiative. The methodologies underpinning the figures in this article along with precise figures will be published in a series of forthcoming articles in the academic conservation literature.

Paul Jepson
Oxford University
Centre for the Environment,
Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Road,
Oxford 0X1 3QY, UK.

Source: BirdingAsia 9 (2008): 58-60

Developments regarding a certification system for captive-bred birds in Indonesia

Paul Jepson, Made Sri Prana, Sujatnika and Fahrul Amama

TRAFFIC Bulletin Vol. 22 No. 1 (2008)


The hugely popular Indonesian pastime of keeping wild birds for pets is threatening the long-term survival of many songbird species on the islands of Java and Bali (BirdLife International, 2001; Jepson and Ladle, 2006). In response to this threat, the authors have been working with leaders of the songbird-keeping fraternity to develop a non State, market-based governance approach to guide consumer preferences in Indonesia away from wild-caught birds towards captive-bred alternatives. A key component of this approach is empowering consumer choice through the establishment of a labelling system to certify bird-breeding facilities in Indonesia. This paper reports on the development and initial design of the certification tool. The broader approach to governing includes planned activities to: i) market captive-bred birds as more desirable on ethical and quality grounds; ii) increase the supply of captive-bred birds; iii) a social marketing campaign to encourage ethical and sustainable bird purchasing choices (and dissuade casual purchase of birds); and, iv) promote the prestige of captive-bred ‘ring class’(classes of birds that are captive bird and hence ringed) birds at songbird competitions.

The authors' design of this system of governing is informed by a research project that comprised two phases: 1) a questionnaire survey and media analysis to generate overview data on the scale and attributes of bird-keeping and scope out the key actors, networks and motivations? that need to be influenced, and 2) in-depth interviews and workshops that aimed to reveal insights on the contemporary culture of bird keeping in Indonesia and identify and engage influential actors within the bird-keeper fraternity in the development of A a suitable and effective policy approach.

Bird-keeping and breeding in Java and Bali

Bird keeping is hugely popular in Java and Bali. In the six cities surveyed during April 2006, 35.7% (636 out of 1781 households surveyed) of households kept a bird and 57.6% had kept a bird in the last 10 years. A projected 1.45 million households keep an estimated 2.15 million wild-caught birds (Jepson and Ladle, in press).

Entering songbirds into competitions is a popular recreation in Java and Bali (and now gaining popularity in Kalimantan and Sumatra). Five of the nine species regularly found in competition are among the ten commonest species kept, namely Canary Serinus canarius, Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach, Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina, White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus, and Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis (Jepson, 2008)

Preliminary projections arising from the survey suggest that songbird keepers contribute approximately €50 million to the economy of these six cities. Of this, ca €31.6 million is produced by the sale and trading of birds, ca €7.5 million from the collection, breeding and sale of live food (ants eggs, worms, crickets) and ca €5.6 million from the manufacture and selling of bird cages. This figure does not include other aspects of the hobby which may make significant economic and employment contributions, namely bird markets, song contests and bird-breeding enterprises (Jepson, Ladle and Sujatnika, in prep).

Species such as Canary, Zebra Dove Geopelia striata and lovebirds Agapornis are bred in large numbers. The rise in popularity of songbird keeping since the mid-1990s, combined with declining wild populations, is resulting in a growth in the number of songbird breeders. Breeders now produce species such as Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus, White-rumped Shama, Chestnut-capped Thrush Zoothera interpres, Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra, Bali Starling Leucopsar rothschildi, and Black-winged Starling Sturnus melanopterus in increasing numbers. Several of this species are classed as threatened and continue to be taen from the wild (shepard 2006). Indeed supplies white-rumped shama increased as the expansion of illegal logging in the late 1990s opened new areas for trapping. at present the picture concerning aquistion of breeding stock is complex. most breeders prefer to exchange breeding stock within their networks but many will buy wild caught birds on occasions. some of these such as shamas may be recently taken from the wild whilst others notablly long-lived species such as straw-headed bulbul are purchased from bird-kepers and may have been caught from the wild up to 20 years previously.

Five general business models for breeding birds were identified during the survey: i) independent breeder; ii) breeder with out-sourcing; iii) breeder association; iv) village co-operative and v) commercial-scale bird farm. In addition, huge numbers of ‘amateur’ bird-keepers breed and sell the common domestic species: Canary, lovebirds and Budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus. The first three types of enterprises are the locus [source?] of innovation on techniques to breed and rear songbirds. Central to each is a technically adept individual who has a passion for developing new breeding and husbandry techniques. New techniques are shared between breeders at workshops convened by Pelestari Burung Indonesia (PBI). These business modules are suited to rapid expansion and scaling up.

Important aspects of the bird-keeping hobby are governed by PBI. For instance, since the 1980s, PBI has trained and accredited songbird competition judges and most competitions seek PBI endorsement (use of their logo) as this brings status and an assurance of impartiality and integrity to their event. More recently, PBI has been actively expanding its breeder membership and organizing workshops and training events to promote knowledge-sharing and the creation of active breeder networks.

Developing a bird a certification system

The questionnaire survey revealed positive or ambivalent attitudes towards certification among bird keepers. The authors' research identified six communities of practice within and interacting with bird keeping, namely: i) organizers of songbird contests and prominent hobbyists; ii) breeders and breeder associations; iii) manufacturers of bird food; iv) journalists and editors in the bird-keeper media; v) the governing committee of PBI; and vi) conservationists within the international bird conservation community associated with Burung Indonesia (BirdLife Indonesia).

Representatives of each community came together in a series of three regional workshops held in Yogyakarta (Central Java), Surabaya (East Java) and Jakarta (West Java) during December 2007. The workshops were independently facilitated by the social enterprise, Aksenta, who specialize in strategy facilitation, certification and accreditation. The goal of the workshops was to prepare the public for the concept of certification, build trust and communication between different communities of practice and identify points in bird supply chains that could be certified.

Participants at these workshops were enthusiastic about the idea of certification and proposed that a working group be formed to work up the details. The working group met in February and March 2008. Their deliberations were informed by a review of international certification schemes, relevant Indonesian law and Aksenta experience of ISO9000 (a family of standards for quality management systems), forest and coffee certification. The Species Unit with the Department of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA) were kept informed of progress but not directly involved in the process.

Elements of a proposed certification system

The certification systems will focus on songbirds with the following agreed objectives: 1) to guarantee the captive-bred status of birds produced by certified breeding facilities; 2) to promote best practice in bird breeding both in terms of quality, welfare and quantity; 3) to accelerate the replacement process of wild-caught birds with captive-bred birds for pets or other purposes. There are three groups of songbirds with different certification requirements: i) native song birds; ii) non-native songbirds (canary and lovebird) which are bred locally; and iii) chicks of Orange-headed Thrush which are harvested from agroforests in Bali [Jepson 2008] . Developing standards and criteria for certifying the first two groups was the goal of the working groups. The object of the certification system will be the bird-breeding business unit (not the birds) and will cover all the bird breeding business models listed above. The system will focus on the production process (input–output); a measuring and monitoring system; and documentation that allows for a traceable system.

A stepwise approach to the development and introduction of certification is planned. This reflects current administrative and breeding capacity and the need to expand the number of breeders. It also aligns with the PBI policy that classes for wild-caught songbirds will be prohibited from PBI-accredited songbird contests after 2012. Initially, the songbird certification body will be hosted by PBI as a “Certification Committee”. This was approved at the PBI national meeting in March 2008 and will provide the new entity with credibility and administrative support. The Certification Committee will issue certificates to songbird breeders that have been independently audited against two basic criteria, each with indicators and standards. These are: suitability and competency of breeding facility; and assurance that birds produced are captive-bred at the facility. Auditors must complete training and pass a competency test, be registered, and agree to abide by a code of ethics. In addition, they should be knowledgeable about bird-breeding and the songbird hobby.

The intention is to fund a certification system through a combination of fees from bird breeders and sponsorship. Many breeders are small businesses so the system will be affordable but not free, pricing systems will reflects the number of breeding pairs and extent of production, and groups of breeders will be assessed during one audit. The certification committee hopes to secure additional funding from songbird contest organizers and the companies producing bird food and products.

Prognosis and next steps

The certification system outlined represents a starting point. It may change and evolve as it is introduced. The next step is to conduct pilot audits/certifications of bird breeders breeding different species in different regions of Java. There are a number of questions that still need to be thought through; for instance, if the ultimate goal is to provide consumers with a means to identify a bird of captive-bred origin (for example, with a ring) should certification extend to canary, lovebirds and budgerigars which are already bred in large numbers by bird keepers. The authors are of the opinion that this should not be the case, or should not happen because people already class these birds as ‘imports’ and semi domesticated species. They also believe it will be necessary and possible to extend certification to the harvesting of chicks as is occurring on Bali, but that different criteria and standards will be needed to control harvesting practice and stimulate breeding initiatives.

Gaining momentum for the establishment of a bird certification scheme will require the leadership and commitment of a number of people and groups within the world of bird keeping, breeding and conservation. Certification and moving to captive-bred birds supports the agendas of many interests and is not necessarily counter to others. In addition, the judges of songbird contests are already accredited by PBI so the general principle is not new within the hobby. There is a good chance that this work will translate from the conceptual stage into reality, especially if funds for some pilot certification can be secured.


BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Bird of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Jepson, P. (2008). Orange-headed thrush Zoothera citrina and the avian X-factor. Birding Asia 9:58-61.

Jepson, P., and Ladle, R. (in press). Developing New Policy Instruments to Regulate Consumption of Wild Birds: Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Bird-Keeping in Java and Bali. Oryx.

Jepson, P., and Ladle, R.J. (2006). Bird keeping in Indonesia: conservation impacts and the potential for substitution-based conservation responses. Oryx 39:442-4

Jepson, P. Ladle, RJ and Sujatnika (in prep) Re-framing bird-trade policy approaches: an economic profile of bird-keeping in Java and Bali, Indonesia

Shepherd, C.R. 2006 The bird trade in Medan, north Sumatra: an overview. Birding Asia 6: 16-24


The information summarized in this article is the result of collaborative action research involving the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Nielsen-Indonesia, Burung Indonesia, Pelestarian Burung Indonesia and Aksenta. The research was funded by Defra’s Darwin Initiative - which draws on the wealth of biodiversity expertise within the UK to help protect and enhance biodiversity around the world. The authors thank Nielsen Indonesia for their invaluable assistance with the questionnaire surveys. The methodologies underpinning the figures in this article along with precise figures will be published in a series of forthcoming articles in the academic conservation literature.

Paul Jepson, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, South Parks Road, Oxford, UK

Made Prana, Pelestari Burung Indonesia, co [c/o?] Taman Burung TMII, Jakarta 13560, Indonesia

Sujatnika, Aksenta, Jl. Gandaria VIII/10 Kebayoran baru, Jakarta 12130

Fahrul Amama, Burung Indonesia Jl. Dadali 32, Bogor - Indonesia

Penangkaran Murai Batu di Jambi Gagal, Rabu, 24 Desember 2008 | 22:09 WIB

JAMBI, RABU - Penangkaran species burung murai batu yang sempat dikembangkan Balai Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam (BKSDA) Provinsi Jambi beberapa tahun tahun lalu akhirnya gagal, karena kurang mendapat dukungan dana dari pemerintah pusat dan daerah.

"Semula penangkaran burung murai batu yang mulai langka di Jambi itu sempat berhasil, namun akhirnya gagal karena terbentur dana," kata Kepala BKSDA Provinsi Jambi, DR. Ir. Didy Wurjanto, M.Sc di Jambi, Rabu (24/12).

Species tersebut mulai langka atau terjadi penurunan populasi yang cukup tajam selain kerusakan hutan juga tingginya penangkapan dan minat masyarakat penggemar burung berkicau di Jambi untuk memeliharanya.

Populasi murai batu kini hanya ditemukan di kawasan pedalaman hutan konservasi seperti Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat (TNKS), Taman Nasional Bukit Dua Belas (TNB) dan Taman Nasional Berbak (TNB). Itupun jumlahnya tidak seberapa.

BKSDA Jambi hingga kini belum memiliki data yang pasti jumlah populasi species murai batu, sehingga perlu dilakukan penelitian. Para penggemar burung berkicau di Jambi sampai kini juga belum ada yang berhasil menangkarkan murai batu berwarna kuning dan hitam, karena untuk memeliharanya saja juga amat susah atau perlu ketelatenan agar bisa bertahan hidup lama.

"Kami berharap ada masyarakat penggemar burung berkicau mengembangbiakan murai batu, seperti Jalak Bali kini telah berhasil dikembangbiakan masyarakat di Bali dan Jawa. BKSDA Jambi akan membantu dari segi teknis pengembangbiakannya," tambahnya.

Species burung murai batu itu memungkinkan bisa dikembangbiakkan masyarakat, terutama para penggemar burung berkicau, lain dengan satwa langka lain seperti harimau Sumatera (Phantera tigris sumaterae) diburu dengan membunuh karena beberapa bagian tubuh akan dijual dengan harga mahal ke luar negeri.

Harga burung murai batu yang diperjualbelikan di pasar lokal Jambi rata-rata Rp300.000-Rp500.000 per ekor. Jika kicauannya sudah jadi harganya bisa mencapai Rp1,5 juta hingga Rp2 juta per ekor. Udin, salah seorang penjual burung murai batu di Jambi mengatakan, untuk mendapatkan burung tersebut di hutan Jambi kini semakin sulit.

"Anak buah saya terkadang bisa seminggu sampai dua minggu berada di hutan mencari murai batu, itupun hasilnya tidak memuaskan terkadang sama sekali tidak dapat," katanya.

Sumber : Antara