Everywhere I go there is one distinctive birdsong that I associate with the location. I recently spent the day exploring the Ancient Citadel and Royal Forbidden City in Hue, Vietnam.
Constantly hunted as food or for caged pets, the birds of Vietnam and quite shy. The Magpie Robin’s beautiful song however, carried throughout the Citadel.
Hue is a beautiful city and the Citadel tranquil and beautiful…..hard to imagine that it was the scene of a ferocious battle in 1968. The North Vietnamese army and Viet Cong occupied it during their Tet holiday assault on the city.
After several weeks of fierce fighting, the U.S. Marine Corps retook both the city and the Citadel. They used great restraint to save this historic place…refusing to use bombs or artillery. Today it is a major tourist attraction, and a peaceful respite from a busy city in a developing nation.
Forty some years ago, the bird population of Vietnam was all but eliminated by years of constant shelling and bombing.
Since then, the dietary habits of the Vietnamese have kept the avian popultation at a low level. There weren’t many birds to be seen at the Citadel, but the song of the Oriental Magpie Robin characterised the palace for me. It’s a beautiful song, and it isn’t hard to imagine ancient Emperors and Mandarins hearingthe same notes on warm breezes.
A resident breeder throughout tropical Asia, the Oriental Magpie Robin can be found both in the forest and in urban gardens.
Emperor Gia Long began the building of the Citadel in 1804. Hue and the Citadel served as Vietnam’s capital until the nation’s independance in 1945.
One cannot help but appreciate the serenity of the ancient palace, temples and pavillions.
Guarded by golden dragons and serenaded by hidden birds.