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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 20:40 GMT
Tongue-twisting budgie is CD star
Sparkie the budgie
Sparkie died in Newcastle in 1962
The linguistic skills of a Geordie budgie that died more than 40 years ago have been immortalised on a CD published by the British Library.

Sparkie lived in Newcastle until 1962 and had a repertoire of more than 500 words and 380 sentences.

His stuffed remains are on show at the Hancock Museum in Newcastle, where visitors hear examples of his mimicry.

His talents will join the sounds of other birds copying both everyday and more unusual noises on the CD.

Sparkie was taught a number of nursery rhymes by Newcastle owner Metty Williams in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

National celebrity

In true Geordie twang he chirped out: "Wor little spuggy ran oop the wahter spoot. The rain came down and washed the spuggy oot."

For anyone south of Newcastle the rhyme tells how a small sparrow was stuck in a drainpipe before being washed out by the rain.

Sparkie came to prominence in 1958 when he beat off 2,768 entrants to win a BBC talking bird competition. He became a national celebrity and went on to make a record that sold 20,000 copies.

The new British Library CD also contains recordings of mimicry from wild and captive birds imitating a host of noises from horse whinnies to wood being sawn.

Richard Ranft, a curator at the library's sound archive, said most talkative birds, such as Sparkie, were usually trained from a young age by one person.

The CD features 26 of the rarest recordings, include a jay that neighs like a horse, a bullfinch that whistles traditional German folk tunes and a starling that can imitate an owl, jackdaw and a chicken.

All of the sounds have been drawn from the British Library Sound Archive that holds the world's largest collection of nature sounds.


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