Is Noodle the African Grey Parrot a poet? Is a bird a bard?

Don't parrot what Noodle the African Grey Parrot says

Don’t parrot what Noodle the African Grey Parrot says

It’s Wednesday, don’t you forget. That day of the week when one more of Arathi Menon’s critters ambushes us in the form of an avant-garde parable. Enjoy her latest: Birdbrains for the Soul

I enjoyed drawing her protagonist Noodle the African Grey Parrot, whose vocabulary of 728 words far outweighed what most rap stars these days are capable of uttering in a Grammy acceptance speech. Talking of which, that’s the story.

No more spoilers. But here’s a bit of trivia for the truly bird-brained.

African Grey Parrots are gifted “talkers” and the reason why a great many tiny nestlings are filched for the pet bird trade every year (if you’ve seen Rio — about another species of parrot — all of what’s depicted is true). Ever listened to a parrot speak? The mouth barely opens, but a flood of words escapes those mandibles. What goes on inside is actually quite amazing. While humans articulate words rather finely, with tongue against teeth and other muscular movements of the lips and palate, in birds its the trachea that pushes out air and, as it moves, whistles out the words. Parrots are excellent mimics and soon learn a smattering of “words” without much caring for what they mean.

Which is why if you have kids, don’t get a parrot. Actually, don’t get a parrot anyway. And don’t miss the story.

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