Budgerigar: How a brave, chatty and colourful little Aussie bird stole the world’s heart…
About the Book:
A curiosity of everything you ever wanted to know (or realised you never knew) about budgies.
Budgies, budgies, budgies. Beautiful and cheeky, delightful and enchanting, wild or tamed budgerigars are Australia’s gift to the bird world.
They sing and dance, and yawn as contagiously as humans. They are masters of mimicry. They grasp simple grammar, can count to six and have memories that belie their size. They’ve been coveted by royals and been companions to the great and famous as well as grannies in suburban kitchens around the world. They’ve been painted by masters, rendered in the finest porcelain and graced fashionable hats and earrings of the highest order. Their image has been used to sell whisky, stamps and laundry detergent and everything in between.
Surprising, charming and occasionally alarming, Budgerigar is the book that at last opens the cage door on the incredible story of the little bird that grew.
This book was surprisingly compelling reading. What I thought was going to be a fluffy collection of anecdotes about budgies and their besotted owners turned out instead to be a complete and thorough history of the little parrot, from bush budgie to…well, what they are now, which also forms an integral part of this history. Honestly, I never thought I’d say this about a book on budgies, but this was excellent reading.
‘Generation upon generation of captive and selective breeding has produced, at best, a much-loved and cosseted companion and, at worst, a feathered Frankenstein that’s not so much a bird as a caricature of the original wild creature.’
As well as history, this book provides a commentary on aspects of society within the context of respect for nature. There is scientific enquiry from breeding through to research, examination of the very nature of budgies in terms of what makes them so appealing as a pet, changing ideals with regards to bird keeping, and of course, plenty of those anecdotes about budgies that I was expecting.
‘More than 150 years of intensive select breeding, favouring the qualities that humans want to see rather than those that might serve the bird if they developed naturally, have had an inevitable effect on the creatures’ physiology. They are shorter-lived, less fertile, more prone to disease, less adept at parenting and simply incapable of foraging for themselves.’
While always interesting, this book was also quite sad at times, the poor little budgie having been subjected to many indignities throughout its long history. This book has much to offer, even to those who don’t keep birds as pets. Really, anyone with a keen interest in history would enjoy this book. It offers many topics for contemplation and provides a wealth of talking points – just ask my family who know more about budgies now than they likely ever wished to! In all seriousness, this is an engaging read that I can highly recommend.
‘The point where you realise you have done a grotesque thing is always too late. That is human nature and maybe nature in general.’
Thanks is extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of Budgerigar for review.
Read for #2020ReadNonFic hosted by Book’d Out
Category: Published in 2020
About the Authors:
Very conveniently co-authors Don Baker and Sarah Harris are also a couple. Both veteran journalists, they flirted briefly with being fruiterers before deciding to stick to their knitting. They live on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula with their flying dog Smudge.
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released 31st March 2020