The Clerk in the Country

Friday 23rd July 2021

Learning to chirp

Imitating sparrows was a favourite occupation of my childhood budgerigar, who answered their chirps and joined in with their chittering squabbles, running up and down his perch with enthusiasm.   By contrast, in the evenings he would adopt a resting stance and produce a complex sequence of sounds in a low monotone; his own version of human conversation.

As an experiment I tried teaching him his name, repeating “Joey” whenever I passed.  The “J” proved too difficult but “Oey” was soon part of his vocabulary.  He must have found it a little boring because a tweet was added after it, and some time later another at the start.  Finally he decided to finish with a little trill.  The experiment was a resounding success; half a century later I can still remember “Tweet Oey Tweet Brrr”, the name of my clever little green budgerigar.

We were limited in number, pre-booked and recorded, masked, sanitized and spaced out … but we were there.  For the first time since 10th March 2020, on 21st July 2021 YPS members gathered in the Tempest Anderson Hall to attend a lecture.  It felt good to be back!