Friday focus - If birds could talk

PUBLISHED: 12:55 23 January 2006 | UPDATED: 21:37 28 May 2010

It's been quite a week for our feathered friends. No, I'm not about to get into a flap about bird flu. It's simply that stories about birds have been hitting the headlines, proving just how important they are to us humans. It started a week ago when a two

It's been quite a week for our feathered friends. No, I'm not about to get into a flap about bird flu.It's simply that stories about birds have been hitting the headlines, proving just how important they are to us humans.It started a week ago when a two-million-year-old mystery was solved. Scientists finally proved that it was an eagle, albeit a rather big one, that killed the Taung child - an apeman toddler.And the importance of the discovery is the fact that we used to be eaten by birds has helped shape our behaviour - making us stand upright, for example, to create a smaller target.I'm not sure I'm convinced, particularly as we now seem to love birds rather than fear them.Take the red kite. One of these chestnut brown birds of prey, with a wing span of more than six feet, was seen in London at Christmas.So what? Well, the red kite was virtually extinct in Britain until a few years ago when a few were introduced in various parts of the country, the nearest to the Fens being Rockingham Forest, just south of Stamford. So one appearing in London warranted a headline and photograph - and that on the day environmental health officers suggested that a pensioner put a sock over his cockerel's head to stop it upsetting the neighbours by crowing early every morning.Only a local government officer - this one was in Yorkshire - could come up with such a cranky suggestion.But by far my favourite story, again from Yorkshire, is about Ziggy, the African parrot.Ziggy belonged to Chris, who lived with girlfriend Suzy, who was having a fling with Gary.Chris was baffled when Ziggy started saying "Hiya Gary" every time Suzy's mobile phone rang. The bird made kissing noises when the name Gary was mentioned on TV, and on one occasion when Chris and Suzy were snuggled together on the sofa, Ziggy said: "I love you, Gary" in Suzy's voice.In the end Suzy had to confess, and was quickly dumped by Chris.Which surely makes the parrot man's best friend . . . well, at least until another one manages to unmask an unfaithful male!

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