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World Cup Twist – Parrots and Vultures Weigh-In with Predictions

VultureMany soccer fans have favorite methods of predicting game outcomes, but 2 bird-based “systems” that arose during the recent World Cup mania struck me as truly unique and, in one case, quite disturbing.  The species involved were Rose-Ringed Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) and Cape Vultures (Gryps coprotheres).

Singapore’s Fortune Teller

Mani the Rose-Ringed Parakeet had already built up quite a reputation as a soothsayer in Singapore’s “Little India” community before this year’s World Cup catapulted him into international fame.  Owned by an 80-year-old fortune teller, the bird had been offering gambling and marriage “advice” to local people for years. 

Recently, Mani accurately predicted the outcomes of 5 important soccer matches (by turning over cards) and so folks are betting heavily on his World Cup predictions.

Vulture Brains, Anyone?

A more troubling scenario is presented by the situation in South Africa.  Gambling on World Cup matches is big business, and many people have somehow become convinced that they will be endowed with the ability to predict game outcomes after smoking dried vulture brains!

The species of choice, the Cape Vulture, is already highly endangered due to habitat loss and electrocution via power lines…Birdlife Africa predicts that this new (and quite bizarre) threat may push it to the brink of extinction.

Embarrassing Bird Vocalists

Rose-ringed ParakeetsChoosing losing teams is not the only way that birds have found to embarrass their owners.  In 1845, a parrot owned by US President Andrew Jackson had to be evicted from his former owner’s funeral because he was cursing loudly in both English and Spanish!

While working at the Bronx Zoo, coworkers and I taught an Indian Hill Myna to speak, not realizing that the bird would later be released into a huge mixed-species exhibit.  The zoo’s director came in one morning to record the calls of the exhibit’s residents, and was dismayed to hear, over and over, the Myna’s favorite phrase “Help, let me out”!



Further Reading

Video of Mani the Parakeet picking winners

Cape Vulture Conservation

Rose-Ringed Parakeets as Pets

Rose-ringed Parakeets image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by J.M.Garg

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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