Many 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
Choosing 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”!
Video of Mani the Parakeet picking winners
Rose-ringed Parakeets image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by J.M.Garg