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Beijingers Play Fetch with Migratory Birds in Traditional Game

Passersby in Beijing during winter or early spring might happen upon groups of residents playing fetch with birds. The players blow plastic beads into the air through carbon tubes for the birds — often from the migratory wutong species — to catch and return, in exchange for a treat. It’s a Beijing tradition dating back to the Qing Dynasty, which ruled between the 17th century and early 20th century. Today, only about 50 to 60 people in Beijing are believed to still practice it.

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