The police picked up the bird, and an officer tried to chat, but the parrot wouldn't speak. He was deposited at a vet clinic, and after a while he opened up. “I'm Mr. Yosuke Nakamura,” he confided. He gave his address. The vet told the police, who found that yes, there was a Nakamura family at that address who had lost their bird. They said they'd been drilling Yosuke for two years on how to ID himself. (Smart. I never even thought of teaching my cockatiel, “I'm Ms. Beak-of-Steel McCarthy.”)
Mr. Nakamura contrasts with the last talking bird I read about in the news, a blue-and-gold macaw at a wildlife sanctuary in Warwickshire. Barney, formerly a lorry-driver's pet, is a classically foul-mouthed parrot who is no longer allowed to meet the public after telling “the local mayoress to f*** off.” He cursed some children. He cursed the vicar. Like Yosuke, he doesn't trust law enforcement, and told two police officers, “You can f*** off too, w******!”
Those asterisks were in the original. I am a simple natural history buff and can only guess what they stand for.
Two African Greys at the sanctuary have picked up these effective phrases from Barney. The Daily Mail reported that sanctuary owner Geoff Grewcock says the three birds sit around swearing. “It sounds like a builder's yard, with all the abuse flying about.” A fourth bird, Sunny, shrieks “Shut up!” when the cursing starts, but they ignore him.
According to the Sun, Grewcock hopes to clean up Barney's conversation by making him listen to documentaries and “posh Radio 4.” As a simple American, I can't even guess what that means Barney will be saying next.
The contrast between nasty rowdy Barney and articulate well-informed Mr. Yosuke Nakamura reminds me of a dog encounter I witnessed. On Market Street in San Francisco, a woman with a white cane was led along the sidewalk by a guide dog, a golden lab. They were near the curb when a pickup truck pulled up at a red light. Two dogs in the back of the truck glanced down, saw a dog below, and instantly began barking loudly. (“Hey! A******! Get away from our truck! Back off, flea-bus!”)
The startled guide dog, suddenly assaulted by hostile sound from above, shrank in terror. The woman with the cane knelt and put her arms around him as the dogs in the truck kept yelling. The driver of the truck looked back, saw what her dogs were doing, and started frantically banging on the back window, yelling at them to stop. Her dogs, encouraged that she was joining the ruckus, barked even harder. (They could have used a bird like Barney to ride shotgun.) Finally the light changed and the truck drove away.
The hard-working guide dog, who had devoted his life to service, stood on the sidewalk trembling. The idlers in the truck, loudmouth jerks who threatened others for the fun of it, zoomed off into the West, probably congratulating each other on effective pack-work and flinging beer bottles into the gutters.It was a moral scene suitable for a Hogarth engraving. (Okay, I know, like I spend so much time looking at engravings. It would be perfect for Goofus and Gallant.)