RUSSIA: Day of the Birds

Long before the Christians or the Communists got to Russia, pent finches, larks, blackbirds and pigeons were let out of their cages to symbolize the coming of spring. As time passed, the freeing of birds became part of the annual celebration of the Orthodox Feast of the Annunciation. Even under the stern materialism of Soviet rule. Russia's common man, himself pent beyond hope, continued to find a fleeting moment of freedom in the liberation of small winged creatures on April 7, the Day of the Birds.

This year, as spring came again to Russia, Moscow's sprawling Kotelnikovsky Bird Market was...

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