perkutut DKI dot com
INTERVIEW WITH THE JAKARTA GLOBE MAGAZINE, JUNE 17, 2010
Perkututs, also known as geopelia striata, belong to the Columbidae dove family. They are native to Southeast Asia and can be found in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of Eko Aris Riyanto, Antara)
Perkutut’s Song Helps Indonesia’s Spirit Soar
According to an ancient Javanese belief, a gentleman can sit for hours, sipping sweet tea and smoking kretek cigarettes while listening to the gentle song of his perkutut. With the mythical “garuda” as the symbol of the nation, the centuries-old tradition of keeping birds as pets is going strong Indonesia. According to some perkutut enthusiasts, there are currently millions of people, mostly men, caring for the birds in their homes.
Perkututs, also known as geopelia striata, belong to the Columbidae dove family. They are native to Southeast Asia and can be found in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as Indonesia.
The birds are small and slender with a long and narrow tail. Their upper body is brownish-grey with black-and-white barring. Their plumage below is pinkish with black bars on the sides of the neck, breast and belly.
“There’s an art to picking a good perkutut,” said 33-year-old Eko Aris Riyanto, a perkutut breeder. “Physically, a good perkutut bird has sharp eyes, soft feathers, a round head and a perfect narrow tail.”
According to Eko, perkututs are popular in Indonesia not only because they are easy to care for but also because their beautiful singing voice can lift even the most downtrodden spirit. “Perkututs’ beautiful voice can calm the owner’s heart,” he said.
Saptijanto Nugroho, whose love for perkututs dates back to 1991, keeps 40 of the birds in his home. “I’d say that Indonesia is a bird nation,” the 47-year-old enthusias saidt. “In the world of birds, a good perkutut is like Mariah Carey or Luciano Pavarotti,” he said, referring to the birds’ voice.
Saptijanto, who often enters his perkututs in competitions, said that he has spent Rp 40 million ($4,400) to purchase his three trophy-winning birds.
In 2007, Saptijanto’s perkutut named Intermezo Junior won third place at Liga Perkutut Indonesia (Indonesian Perkutut League), an annual competition.
According to Saptijanto there is an art to producing a winning perkutut.
The first step, he said, is to bathe the bird at least once a week with an antiseptic mixed with water. He also said that it was important to regularly take the perkutut to a crowded place so that the bird learns not to get frightened easily.
Jamu, a traditional Indonesian medicine can also help to keep the bird in good health, Saptijanto said, adding that the owner has to give the birds just the right amount of food and water.
“Not too much, because you don’t want your perkutut to be too fat,” he said.
The last thing that perkutut owners need to do if they want happy birds, Saptijanto said, was to let their birds spread their wings in a big cage.
“This will train the perkutut’s physical strength, especially its breathing.”
According to Saptijanto perkututs’ songs are usually classified into three sections — beginning, middle and end — and a champion perkutut has to perform well all the way through.
“The beginning sound, ‘kleooo,’ has to be long and rhythmic. The middle sound, which goes ‘ke peteg teg’ has to be complete and clear, while the ending ‘kooooong’ has to be long and solid,” he said.
There is much more to love about perkututs besides their beautiful singing, Saptijanto said. Just like having a dog, you need to build an emotional attachment with your perkutut, he said. “You should regularly hold your perkutut, especially when you give it a bath, to build an emotional bound.
When the emotional attachment is established, the perkutut will sing every time the owner is close by.”
Another perkutut hobbyist, 41-year-old Hendra Simatupang, said that he has spent hundreds of millions of rupiah on his 40 birds since he started collecting them in 1994.
He now spends around Rp 200,000 each month to take care of his feathered wards.
Hendra said that although looking after perkutut birds is not very difficult, training one to have a good voice is quite a challenge.
“The main key is to find the right perkutut with the potential to be a champion,” he said. “Money can’t buy the joy that I feel when I hear my perkutut sing.”
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