I am planning a future post in tribute to a wonderful British actor who has built a second career for himself as the author of specialty cookbooks. His name is Robin.
Although the hilarious territorial skirmishes of the robins in my back yard might someday merit a post, today my subject is not robins but parakeets and more specifically budgerigars.
(A portrait of the artist, excerpted from his blog.)
I have had the pleasure of knowing four pet “budgies” in my lifetime. They can be delightful creatures. They awaken every morning happy, as though overjoyed that the sun has once again chosen to rise. They sing and play constantly, they require minimal maintenance, and they are quite intelligent for their size. They can also be great mimics.
It was a talent for mimicry that saved the life of a little budgie in urban Japan a year or two ago. I believe the story unfolded as follows.
One afternoon a budgie – let’s call him Pete – flew away from his home. After a few hours, Pete made what turned out to be a smart decision by flying through an open door into the lobby of a fancy hotel and alighting upon the shoulder of a rather shocked guest. The hotel called the police, the police called animal control, the animal control people procured a cage and food, and before long Pete was comfortably ensconced in a new cage at the local police headquarters.
This left the police with the apparently insoluble problem of discovering where Pete actually belonged. At first Pete offered nothing to aid the police in their inquiries; but after a day or so Pete seemed to have decided that the policemen were actually good guys, and he opened up.
I like trying to imagine what must have gone through the mind of the police captain who was keeping Pete company that day. There the man was doing paperwork or reading email when suddenly the little bird in his office started reciting a street address. Pete had broken his silence by repeating a street address, clearly and distinctly, again and again.
Armed with this new lead, the police packed Pete into a squad car and drove to the address he had provided. There they found his owner, who was beside herself with relief and joy. Some years before she had lost a budgie who had flown away, never to be seen again; so to keep Pete safe she made sure that he knew how to tell people where he lived.
Not all budgies have the talent or the inclination to imitate human speech. My bird Shorty, although a perpetual chatterbox, seemed satisfied to carry on his one-sided conversations in his own private language. Sunny, a family pet from my childhood, learned how to say the words “chirp” and “birdie.” It was very funny to hear her declaim, “Chirp! Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!” in English.
Disco is a four-year-old budgie who lives in western New York state and has a staggeringly impressive vocabulary of phrases in multiple languages, rock song lyrics, lines from classic films, commercial catch-phrases, and cartoon jingles, which he mixes with occasional beat-boxing. Because of his talents (and through the efforts of his patient and loving owners) he has a sizable social media presence featuring his own YouTube channel, Twitter account, and blog.
Disco is one of the funniest performers I have ever seen on YouTube. Here is one of his many video offerings, in which he shows off his skills while reminding us that he is a parakeet.
And here Disco offers his memorable take on a well-known line from Monty Python.
I hope you enjoy Disco’s performances. Happy weekend!
Quote for Today
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” – Charles Caleb Colton (1780 – 1832)