Bird Garden in Mong Kok is full of photo opportunities. This man saw me wandering with my camera. He struck up camera conversation in Cantonese, and then shared his parrot photos, taken with a little Canon point and shoot. I was pleasantly surprised, as I often assume Hong Kong people want to keep to themselves; it's rare to converse with strangers.

Then he picked up his parrot, Coco, who had been sitting on a branch. Coco quickly attracted a crowd with her/his tricks, which included hanging upside down on command. Parrot man asked me to email him my photos of himself and Coco. Certainly! Bird keeping is a hobby, with mainly male human enthusiasts. Bird owners will take their birds out for walks (the bird sits in the cage, the man walks carying the cage), to socialize, and if well trained, some off leash, uh, or rather, out of cage climbing time.

Bird Garden has come a long way from Bird Street. Less than 10 years ago (approximately), it was a tear-jerking nightmare of illegally imported birds, packed into tiny unhygienic crates, with no moving room. The birds in the middle often didn't have food or water access. Mangy and obviously miserable. Bird vendors cleaned up their stores thousand-fold, as a part of an urban renewal project. Birds now have clean spacious cages. Not necessarily free from the illegal bird trade, but a vast improvement nevertheless.