Thursday, May 3, 2012

It Was I: Piko-chan's Incredible Journey

Skip and Flip rejoice upon learning the news of Piko-chan's rescue and repatriation

Pet parakeet returned to Japanese owner after telling police his address

Posted: May 02, 2012 6:36 AM EDT Updated: May 02, 2012 6:36 AM EDT
Source: AFP


A pet parakeet was returned to its Japanese owner Wednesday after the brainy bird told police its home address near Tokyo.

The male bird, called Piko-chan, escaped early Sunday morning from his home in the city of Sagamihara and remained at large before being coaxed into perching on the shoulder of a guest at a nearby hotel.

He was handed over to local police, but Piko-chan did not speak until Tuesday evening, when he blurted out the names of the city and district where his owner's home is located, a police spokesman said.

The stunned cops then listened as the parakeet produced the home's block and street number.

His owner, a 64-year-old woman, once lost another parakeet after it flew away and was determined not to make the same mistake.

"So the owner decided to teach the address to this parakeet after she bought it at a pet store two years ago," a police spokesman said. "The bird's name was found to be Piko-chan as it said, 'You're pretty, Piko-chan."

Agost Canzi, "Portrait of a Lady with a Parakeet" (1856), Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

NOTE:  What a great story. Our family, including especially Skip and Flip, our parakeets, say to Piko-Chan, "Welcome Home!, Congratulations!!, Great Job!!! and Namaste!!!!  Skip and Flip are pictured here because the various news accounts of this uplifting event are all illustrated with generic (but pretty and cute) parakeet “file photos.”  Skip and Flip, incidentally, are a lively, quite intelligent pair, who were named for the late 1950s West Coast group consisting of Skip Battin (later with The Byrds) and Gary S. Paxton (later with the Hollywood Argyles and a notable producer and gospel performer), who scored hits with "Cherry Pie" and the (in this instance) highly relevant "It Was I" (linked below).

The following is excerpted from WebVet and directed toward interested parties:

Are You Interested In A Talking Pet? Here's some speech communications 101:

If you're thinking about talking with your bird, Dr. Kristen L. Nelson and Dr. Greg Harrison suggest these tips for best results:

  • Choose a bird whose ancestors were known talkers -- apparently speech aptitude may have a genetic component.
  • The younger the bird, the better your chance of teaching it to talk.
  • Start with short words or sounds.
  • Repeat the word for a few minutes several times a day.
  • Pay attention to how your bird best makes sounds and "shape'' the word more to the way the bird is best able to mimic it; for instance, instead of saying "Hi,'' say "aiee,'' which is easier to pronounce.
  • Stress "P'' and "B'' words that are easier for the birds to say, such as "Pretty bird.''
  • Learn to read the bird's body language; if it starts making mouth movements after you've repeated a word, that's a good sign that it's trying.
  • When the bird masters a word, reinforce it for several days before adding another.
  • Avoid whistling to the bird or trying to get it to imitate other non-speech sounds.
  • Use praise and positive reinforcement, such as lightly scratching its head, instead of excessive treats as rewards.

Also, "it's important to build up a trust and rapport with your bird before trying to get it to do things you want it to do,'' Harrison said. "Give the bird plenty of emotional feedback and work on establishing a deep interpersonal relationship. Birds don't have to get a sunflower seed from you to realize that you love them.''

Things to see and do in Sagamihara(相模原市 )


  1. Oh, how sweet. I love birds and I we used to have parrots . . . ages ago when I was a girl, back when I could talk my parents into getting every animal except goats. (I was the youngest kid in the family--thus my name. And my father's claim he already had kids.) Amazing to realize how smart birds can be.

  2. Birds are just amazing on every level. My daughter Jane wants a goat very badly. Caroline and I want pony mules. We'll see. As a former president said (peculiarly), "the future lies ahead." Curtis

  3. Such a happy story! Our Cat-A-Day calendar addressed talking cats yesterday.

    "...cats tend to respond when they are spoken to. In fact, cats whose owners converse with them tend to have a larger 'vocabulary' than cats that are ignored."

    I think it's time to stop talking to our seal-point, Smokey.

  4. No, you need to keep speaking to Smokey. It's only polite and it's amazing the things you learn from them. Curtis