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Singing chaffinches: old tradition attracts many guests

A special competition with a tradition going back more than 130 years attracted several hundred guests to the Harz Mountains on Whit Monday: chaffinch roosters sang in competition in the Benneckenstein forest aisle. In the traditional so-called finch manoeuvre, 27 breeders and their animals competed against each other in three disciplines. A jury evaluated distance singing, beauty singing and strong singing.

A special competition with a tradition going back more than 130 years attracted several hundred guests to the Harz Mountains on Whit Monday: chaffinch roosters sang in competition in the Benneckenstein forest aisle. In the traditional so-called finch manoeuvre, 27 breeders and their animals competed against each other in three disciplines. A jury evaluated distance singing, beauty singing and strong singing.

The competition started at 6 a.m. “The birds sing best in the morning,” said Horst Rieche, chairman of the Hasselfelde-Benneckenstein finch association, on Monday.

Rieche got up at 4 a.m. to prepare his birds. In the competition, however, he had bad luck with his animals, one of his finches had let him down, he reported. “On the way back to the parking lot he sang the whole time.”

The pensioner has been breeding chaffinches for a long time and also teaches them certain songs with the help of tape recordings.

Distance singing, for example, involves singing in competition for 30 minutes – preferably as often as possible. “Some finches beat more than 400 times.” In strong singing, the cages are placed in a circle and the singing is continued for three minutes. “The finch that doesn’t sing is eliminated. The circle keeps getting smaller and the strongest wins.”

The Finkenmanöver is one of the oldest folk and cultural festivals in the Harz Mountains. According to Rieche, however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get young people interested in capturing finches. «We age. At 72, I’m one of the younger ones.” He is concerned that the tradition is dying out. According to him, there are currently six locations with Finkenmanöver events in the three Harz states of Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony and Thuringia.

Benneckenstein in Saxony-Anhalt is considered a stronghold of tradition. The competition has been held there since the 19th century. In 2014, Unesco put this tradition on the list of intangible cultural heritage in Germany.

dpa

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