The most favoured songbird used in Thai traditional singing contests on Koh Samui is the Red-Whiskered Bulbul, known in Thai as a ‘Nok Parod’ or ‘Nok Krung Hua Juk’. There are actually 36 breeds of this bird, of the family called Pycnonotus Jocosus, all of which are protected species in Thailand.
The sport is one that involves only the birds themselves. A few hundred spectators, predominantly male, sit quietly along the perimeter of the field, and except for the occasional drone of a car engine, or the murmur of hushed conversation, the only sound comes from the choir of hundreds of birds. By hanging two cages close together, the owners prompt their captives to belt out a song to protect its territory, and during the following three or more hours, judges stop several times under each cage to listen, and award points for pitch and melody.