Calum Brown, Cleveland Sinfoietta, Dar Es Salaam Tanzania, handedness in parrots, HM Royal Air Force, Julius Neyere, Kit-Kats, Lohi Bher Wildlife Park, Macquarie University Sydney, Nina Morgan, parrots left-handed, RAF, Rafael Druian, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Tanganyika, Tarbu the parrot, The Lark Ascending, The Museum Tavern London
For those who’ve never seen it, ala the dead parrot sketch, some comedy routines tend to reflect other issues which are entirely left unmentioned.
(If this does not play, my apologies. Please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npjOSLCR2h)
Monty Python’s insanity or not, live parrots have featured as one of my favorite animals for a very long time.
In part, that’s because some years ago I’d heard that, like humans, they are either left- or right-handed (well, -clawed), and that their wee brains process information in either the left or right hemispheres.
Australian researchers found that virtually all the parrots they studied prefer to use either their left eye and left foot, or right eye and right foot.
“Basically, you get this very close relationship with the eye that they use to view the object and then the hand that they use to grasp it, and it’s very consistent across all the species except a couple,” said Calum Brown [no relation], a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, who led the study.
“In some species, they’re so strongly right or left handed at the species level that there’s effectively no variation.”
In the study, published in “Biological Letters,” Brown and his colleagues studied roughly 320 parrots from 16 different Australian species to see which eye they used to view potential foods.
Ultimately, they found that roughly 47 percent were left handed, 33 percent right handed, and the remainder ambidextrous.
Back in the 1970s and later, there was a huge, very colorful bird whose ‘roost’, so to speak, was a convenient pub across the road from The Museum Tavern in London, indeed just across from The British Museum.
[The Museum Tavern]
My office was just around the corner facing onto the south side of Russell Square.
This very large feathered chap would progress in sequence across each of the tops of the bottles of booze which themselves were arrayed in an steep-sided rows. The effect was an almost Gothic cathedral-like pinnacle in front of a massive mirror behind the bar.
Like other birds (yes, real birds, not the dolly-bird variety) I’ve met, his vocabulary was ‘colourful’ to ‘salty’.
I well recall taking my dear widowed mother and her childhood pal cum travel companion there for a pub lunch.
As we sat and enjoyed a fine Shepherd’s Pie, I pointed out to my lady guests that this parrot had developed an uncanny talent to spot the tourists. That’s when I warned these two pillars of the Presbyterian Church that when the obvious tourists walked in, he’d put his head forward and howl or deeply squawk “F@*king tourists, Auwk!”
He was a source of huge enjoyment, and everyone enjoyed being the butt of a joke as blue as parts of his plumage.
Clearly, that parrot’s mood was far more foul than this poor old chap.
A beautiful Australian parrot in Pakistan is said to be attracting many visitors with its beautiful talks and sad songs, which it has been singing ever since its female partner died.
Visitors to the Wildlife Park at Lohi Bher are very much taken up with parrot, which likes to talk mostly to young ladies, The News reported.
The Superintendent of the park…said that a serving major, who had bought the parrot and its mate for 300,000 rupees ($3,164, £1,948, €2,448) decided to donate him to the park two years ago after the female died.
He said that the parrot talks and sings sad songs and likes to talk only to young ladies as compared to men in the park.
A wildlife constable said that the parrot sings sad songs in memory of its ‘deceased wife’.
A sad tale, indeed, but that sadness pales compared to this this tear-jerker I ran across the other day.
Tarbu, the 55-year-old parrot, dies after signing off with a ‘cheerio’ – A 55-year-old domestic parrot has died – after squawking his last word: “Cheerio.”
[Tarbu used to love munching Kit Kats. Photo: SWNS]
The African Grey parrot Tarbu, believed to be one of the world’s oldest domestic parrots, uttered his final farewell to Nina Morgan, 89, as she made her way to bed.
He was so weak the next morning that he couldn’t manage his usual greeting of “Hello, my darling” and dropped dead from his perch.
Mrs Morgan believes his longevity was down to a life of “being spoilt” – from munching his favourite Kit Kats to watching Emmerdale and Coronation Street every night.
He lived an eventful life having been rescued from an animal trader in Tanzania in 1957 and was once taken into police custody after going missing.
The parrot was known for being vocal and would shout “Cheerio, bye, see you soon” to Mrs Morgan every time she left the house.
He squawked “woof, woof” at dogs, as well as calling “miaow, miaow” at cats that passed his window.
Tarbu even alerted partially-deaf Mrs Morgan to the doorbell by shouting “cooeee” and her name “Nina”, as she could not hear it ring.
Widow Mrs Morgan, who lives alone, said she was very upset by the death of her pet, who had been her companion for 55 years.
She said: “He was a very intelligent bird and very clever. We never taught him to talk, he picked everything up.
“The night before he died I went up to bed and he said ‘cheerio’ to me from his cage. It was the last thing that he said.
“He sounded very weak and I did think ‘oh dear, he is not well’ and had this feeling about it.
“The next morning he was on the top perch of his cage with both of his wings hanging down. I talked to him as usual and he gave me one or two little squeaks.
“I went to make a cup of tea and when I came back he was dead at the bottom of the cage. I cried for two days and I just miss him so much.”
Tarbu was taken from his nest as a chick by an African trader in Da es Salam in Tanganyika, now Tanzania.
Mrs Morgan, a former flight engineer, was living in the country with her husband Peter, who was a pilot for the country’s president Julius Nyerere.
The couple bought Tarbu for their son Christopher, then aged eight, in 1955.
Mrs Morgan added: “He was a very young chick, he had not yet fully feathered. He adored my son and would shout ‘Christopher’ at him.”
Christopher died in a car crash in the 1970s and Mr and Mrs Morgan returned to England with Tarbu in 1985.
Tarbu became Mrs Morgan’s sole companion when her husband, a former RAF pilot, died of emphysema.
She said: “We did so much together. He would say ‘Hello, my darling’ to me every morning when I gave him a digestive biscuit for breakfast.
“I would let him out every afternoon for what I called his ‘fly past’ and he’d fly around the living room and come and sit by me on the sofa.
“We used to watch the news, Emmerdale and Coronation Street together. If an animal programme came on he used to squawk at the other creatures.
“Every night before I went to bed I used to say ‘cheerio Tarbu’ and he would reply ‘cheerio’.
“Everyone who met him thought he was the most wonderful bird. He was so intelligent and always doing something.
“If he saw a dog in the house he would dive bomb on it and should “woof, woof” because he was guarding our home. I used to stroke him like he was a dog.
“He also used to shout “miaow, miaow” and “puss, puss” at cats when they went past the window. He has given me and my friends years of laughter.”
Mrs Morgan buried Tarbu in her garden, underneath an RAF flag, after his death three weeks ago.
To my mind, the sky blue of the RAF flag and the plumage of Old Tarbu are close enough.
Now I have dear Mrs. Morgan to worry about.
The fowl-mouthed pub parrot, long-since deceased, was like the most common of men.
Tarbu was a feathered ‘airman’, of sorts, and gent who died nobly serving his mistress.
Perhaps Mrs. Morgan’s and others’ souls will be comforted by the vision of another bird’s languorous, circuitous, ever-higher trajectory towards Heavens, ‘A Lark Ascending’.
After all, it is indeed the larks which are said to sing hymns at the gates of Heaven.
Sit back. Close your eyes. I promise you’ll not only see it, your soul will soar as well.
(If this does not play, my apologies. please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTGwTH1PUeI&feature=related
HM Royal Air Force http://www.raf.mod.uk/
The News (Karachi, Pakistan), Parrots tend to be left handed: study Parrots tend to be left-handed
This somewhat rare version of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending as performed by Rafael Druian and the Cleveland Sinfonietta, conducted by Louis Lane is available on Amazon USA at US Amazon Lark Ascending
The Museum Tavern’s website is here: The Museum Tavern, London