Sunday, February 5, 2012

First written reference to budgies (Europe)

Did you know that the first European to write anything about budgies was the English ornithologist John Gould?

Which reminds me of something: in primary school, I was already known for my love for birds. Right before I moved on to Secondary school, my teacher said to me: "You love birds, so maybe one day you could become an ornithologist. You should write down that word and remember it."

Anyway, John Gould sailed to Australia to study the birds of that country. The result of this trip was The Birds of Australia (1840 - 1848). His wife Elizabeth made hundreds of drawings from specimens for the publication of his work.

Photo © Katrina Morris

Gould not only named and described our budgerigars, but he is also credited with introducing them to Britain. He specifically mentions the "beautiful little Warbling Grass Parakeet", which, prior to 1838, was so rare in the southern parts of Australia that only a single example had been sent to Europe.

During his explorations, he explains that budgies were flying in flocks of up to a hundreds strong over the Liverpool plains. Describing these as "the most animated, cheerful little creatures you can possibly imagine", he managed to bring a live pair back to England. Gould apparently also commented on how good they are to eat (I do not approve of this at all!!!) - hence the Aboriginal name "Betcherrygah". "Budgerigar" is in fact a corrupted version of this Aboriginal name. In Dutch, on the other hand, we call them "Grass parakeets", which leans closer to Gould's version.

1 comment:

  1. I think budgies would be proud to know that they are delicious as well as delightful.

    But I could be wrong.