While most Hong Kong bird-lovers find it hard enough looking after one or two caged birds, Kevin Yuan Tai-shing has flocks of birds under his wing. As senior amenities assistant at the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, Mr Yuan, along with seven colleagues, tends to the daily needs of 460 birds in 19 cages. It is something Mr Yuan, 47, loves. He works 8?-hour days, clocking up 10 to 12 hours during the breeding season. Nevertheless, he feels there are never enough hours in a day for looking after his feathered friends. 'We have 460 birds to take care of. Are they all right? What is happening to them?' he is always asking himself. With 160 species, 45 of which are endangered, it is important to check the birds every morning. Then comes the cleaning and feeding. It is important to note the birds' plumage, body functions and movements because they point to their condition. Precautions are taken to safeguard the health of the birds, including vaccination against disease. Close attention also has to be paid to feeding bowls to check whether the birds are eating well. It is also necessary to make sure there is enough vegetation in cages. Turning over the soil is one of the keepers' chores, because birds like worm-hunting in soft soil. Mr Yuan undertook a year-long internship at Santiago Zoo in the US in 1992 and special training in the conservation of endangered bird species with the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust at Jersey Zoo in Britain in 1996. Working with endangered species requires knowledge of biology and the ability to replicate habitats and provide them with appropriate food. When Mr Yuan walks out of the gardens at night, he is not getting away from birds, he is heading home to a green-winged macaw called Billy, given to him last year by an elderly woman who could no longer care for him. Now the bird is about 25 and can deliver a few words in Cantonese and English. Mr Yuan says every now and then he squawks 'Father!' Macaws hold a special place in Mr Yuan's heart. During his time at Kowloon Park he worked with a blue and yellow macaw named Bee-bee. 'It was a hand-reared bird. One day Bee-bee escaped and my colleagues chased her all over the park to capture it, but without success.' Bee-bee flew out of the park and headed straight for the China Hong Kong Building and perched on the roof. 'I rushed to a high point in the park, from where I could see the bird. I was sure Bee-bee could see me, too, even though she was about 1.5km away,' he recalls. 'I stretched out my arms, shouting its name, again and again ... all the while thinking Bee-bee would never return. But Bee-bee heard me and flew to me and sat on my shoulder. It was magic! Sometimes I think birds are like humans.'