Bird Calls

A few weeks back I mentioned a news app called “Smart News” that features daily tantalizing headlines accompanied by brief articles.  Here are some of their recent postings:

8 Things to NEVER Buy at Costco

4 Vegetables You Should NOT Eat

7 Canned Fruits to NEVER Buy

6 Things to NEVER Eat at a Breakfast Buffet

7 Great Things About Pickles

The only article I read was the pickle one.  Wow, they qualify as veggies. Finally, some good food news!

I also subscribe to a magazine called “The Week.” Yes, a magazine. If you are very young and not familiar with what a magazine is, Google it.  If you are an older senior and don’t know what Google is, look through some of your old magazines. There’s probably an article about it somewhere.

“Smart News” deals with the big political stories of the day, but it also sprinkles in an assortment of newsy tidbits, like this one below:

                                      BIRDS TAUGHT TO MAKE VIDEO CALLS

That got my immediate attention. I’ve ignored facetime calls on my iPhone and iPad, assuming they were robo calls (NOT robin calls). I often block the callers after these attempts to reach me, assuming it was someone phishing.  Maybe these calls were from pelicans, the best phishermen around.

Dr. Ilyena Hirskyj at Glasgow University says she has taught birds, specifically parrots, to call each other using an iPad.  Domestic parrots (of which there are 28 million in the world) usually spend their very long life alone in cages and need some social interaction. Playing solitaire and munching on crackers for 75 years just doesn’t cut it.

Dr. Hirskyj’s subjects were also trained to type out simple messages using a keyboard. This proved painfully slow, since most of the birds were unable to progress past the hunt and peck method.

Many of the parrots, when reaching out to other parrots, would preen and display their colors in front of the camera in a posture suggesting they were interested in mating. In Florida, the legislature wants to ban such video.  At Disney World, Donald Duck and his nephews are planning a protest.

Some adult parrots were thrilled to finally get calls from their kids. “I hadn’t heard a peep out of my son in 50 years,” said one mama parrot when she realized how quickly time was flying by.

In a related story—and one I am totally making up—researchers in New York City equipped pigeons with miniature iPhones around their necks and taught them to communicate with each other while walking around Central Park.  Testing was halted when in one week, 26,000 were killed crossing the street while talking on their cells

Most birds just want to settle down and have a family. They are using a new app called Chickens are downloading

Knowing I was writing this silly column, Mary Ellen now summons me to the phone whenever she gets a call identified as spam. “Dick, there’s some chick on the phone for you.”

“Chicks haven’t called me since I was single. How do you know it’s for me?”

“Well, she keeps saying CHEAP CHEAP!”

– Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@