Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/453

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spoken tongue. It is also a historical fact that when, in 1509, the Spanish freebooters Nicuesa and Ojeda wished to surprise the village of Yurbaco, on the Isthmus of Darien, in order to capture a cargo of slaves, the vigilant parrots in the tops of the trees announced the approach of the enemy, and thus enabled the inhabitants to escape.

Perhaps the most cultivated and certainly the most celebrated parrot of which we have any record belonged from 1830 to 1840 to a canon of the cathedral of Salzburg, named Hanikl, who gave the bird regular instruction twice a day, from nine to ten in the morning and from ten to eleven in the evening. The parrot made rapid progress in the development of its mental faculties, and soon showed what a remarkable degree of intelligence it is possible for such a creature to attain under systematic tuition. The sayings and doings of this parrot which lived fourteen years after Hanikl's death and died in 1854, have been reported by a number of careful and competent observers and are unquestionably authentic. One day, as some one entered the room, it cried out in a harsh tone, "Where do you come from?" On seeing that the person was an ecclesiastical dignitary, it added, apologetically: "Oh, I beg pardon of your Grace; I thought it was a bird. It took part in general conversation, and was sometimes so loquacious that it had to be told to stop; it was also fond of talking to itself, and imagining all sorts of exciting scenes: "Beat me, will you? Beat me, will you? Oh, you rascal! Yes, yes, that's the way of the world." It whistled tunes and sang various popular songs, and even learned an entire aria from Flotow's opera of Martha.

A parrot of the same species (Psittacus erithacus), ash-gray, with scarlet-red tail, is now in the possession of M. Nicaise, a member of the Anthropological Society of Paris. This bird is nearly fifty years of age, and endowed with wonderful versatility of intellect. It imitates to perfection all the calls and cries of the street, and when in 1870 it was sent away from the beleaguered city into the country, it came back with its repertory immensely enlarged, having learned to reproduce the whistle of the quail, the hoot of the owl, the merry scream of the magpie, the crow of the cock, the cluck of the hen, and the tones of a great variety of wild birds and domestic fowls and quadrupeds. One of its histrionic masterpieces is the phonetic representation of the killing of a pig which it witnessed nearly a quarter of a century ago, but of which it has not forgotten a single characteristic grunt or squeal. Nothing is omitted, from the deep gutturals, alternating with piercing shrieks, as the porker is dragged to the place of slaughter, to the last faint groan of the dying animal. Indeed, the reproduction of the scene is so intolerably realistic, that the persons present are fain to stop their ears and to bid the bird keep si-