The little green birds dart in the wire mesh pens as they tweet.
They then perch on the wall after realising the presence of strangers near the cages.
The five known as lovebirds (Agapornis) stay at the same spot as they study us until we leave.
“Whenever they feel threatened, they will perch in a group at a place they believe is as high as possible,” explains Dr Emmanuel Kisiang’ani, the owner of the farm located at Kabuchai, Bungoma.
Dr Kisiang’ani has christened his farm Cloud Nine Animal Orphanage and Bird Sanctuary.
The employee of the Institute for Security Studies, and also lecturer at the University of Nairobi, has 13 different species of ornamental birds, some wild, on the three-acre farm.
The 70 birds include the Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca), cranes, Australian cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus), budgerigar or budgie parakeets (Melopsittacus undulatus) and lovebirds.
Others are turkeys, peacocks, guinea fowls, indigenous chickens and ducks.
“This is my contribution to conserving nature as I make some money. My aim is to have as many different species of birds as I can. I am currently looking for a permit to import the Emu, which is a relative of the ostrich,” says Dr Kisiang’ani, who ventured into the business about two years ago.
He bought his first birds from a farmer in Karen, using in total Sh300,000 to set up the farm.
“The Egyptian goose is one of my favourites. It is a cross between a goose and a duck. It has both duck and goose-like characteristics with pink legs. They are mainly found south of the Sahara in Africa along the Nile River valley and Southern Israel,” says the doctor, describing the birds that take two years to lay and hatch eggs.
Away from the Egyptian goose, Dr Kisiang’ani also talks fondly of cranes, which have long legs and necks.
“These birds are a threatened species; their numbers are dwindling fast due to environmental pollution and poaching,” says the farmer, who was motivated to go into the business by the need to conserve nature, boost knowledge on the wild birds and reap from the potential that the business has.
He has two cranes, about one-year-old. The birds feed on seeds, crops, insects, snails and worms.
Budgies and Australian cockatiel are other interesting birds that bring him good money.
“These birds change colour whenever they lay eggs. The Australian cockatiel hatches after every 14 days. During this period, they change to blue, yellow or green.”
He sells an Australian cocktail at Sh9,500 each, and a pair at Sh19,000.
The budgies, which he imports from Europe, retail at Sh15,000 each, an Egyptian goose for Sh15,000, a three-month peacock at Sh35,000 and an ostrich at Sh25,000.
“Cranes are under threat, which is why I do not dispose them but I will sell each at Sh15,000,” says Dr Kisiang’ani, who makes about Sh100,000 profit per month from selling birds.
While the income is low considering the investment, he says the business is still nascent but has great potential.
“These ornamental birds are loved by people who want to beautify their homes. However, right now my aim is not to sell them but to expand my brood and build a huge sanctuary.”
“I want people to appreciate ornamental birds because many consider them a preserve of the rich. Though I grow crops and keep other animals like pigs, keeping ornamental birds is the farming I love,” he adds.
He charges a small fee for those who want to enter the sanctuary.
“Students visit the sanctuary to see how some of the birds they learn in school look like. The farm has reduced the distance they used to travel while going for such excursions.”
He charges Sh20 for secondary school students, Sh10 for primary and Sh50 for adults.
“I harboured the idea of coming up with a sanctuary for a long time back in the days when I was undertaking my doctoral studies in South Africa between 2003 and 2007. It took me over three years to establish this farm.”
Keeping such birds requires a licence from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
“Before KWS gives you a permit, its officials must visit your farm and see how and where you will keep the birds. They ensure one has appropriate facilities and feeds.”
Thereafter, one pays an average fee of Sh1,500 per species of the birds he wants to rear, depending on the size of the bird.
Every week, he spends Sh3,000 on poultry feeds. Budgies and Australian cockatiels feed on yellow millet, which he buys at Sh190 a kilo.
Due to his busy work schedule in Nairobi, Dr Kisiang’ani has employed four workers on his farm to take care of the birds.
“There is lack of skilled personnel to take care of the birds. This has forced me to take one of my workers for training at the KWS. Again, juggling between my job and the project is a big challenge because I have to travel to Bungoma regularly.”