Experts say pet birds only mimic the sounds of human speech, but Patti Kearney thinks her starling, Murray the Bird, may have taken it a step further.
The Ocean City resident, who raised Murray from the time he was a hatchling until he died last month at age 7, said the bird would see her 20-month-old son, Patrick, and say to him, “What do you think, Patrick?”
Husband John Ryan, with whom she runs Shamrock Marine Towing/Towboat US in Somers Point, said he felt as if he had conversations with Murray.
“In the morning, he’d come to me and say, ‘Want a raisin,’” Ryan said, so he’d give him one.
Then Murray would say, “How about a splashy bowl?” and Ryan would put water in a bowl for Murray to bathe. “He was asking for what he wanted,” Ryan said.
Kearney adopted Murray while working for East Coast Wholesale in Pleasantville, she said. Boss Steve Eggly found him in a fallen nest in a warehouse, “peeping for his life,” she said, next to two dead nestmates. Eggly tried to feed him baby formula through a dropper.
Kearney took over Murray’s care with the help of instructions from starlingtalk.com, which made it clear he needed to eat insects and couldn’t be returned to the wild because he had imprinted on her.
Starlings are popular pets in Great Britain but often are considered pests in the U.S., because they travel in large flocks called murmurations and can besiege bird feeders, she said.
Although she misses Murray terribly, Kearney said she has four other talkative starlings, found in an abandoned nest in a junkyard three years ago.
“Murray didn’t want to socialize with them, but they followed him like he was their leader,” Kearney said. “Now they sit on his cage and say, ‘Murray, where’s Murray?’ and I think, ‘Do they really understand?’”
See video and more photos of Murray on his Facebook page at bit.ly/pressmurray
Dorothy girl’s writing wins
Gabriella DeStefano, 13, a homeschooled student in Dorothy, Weymouth Township, received an honorable mention in the October 2013 Cricket League writing competition. Each entrant was asked to submit an original story about a dream.
DeStefano’s name appears in the Cricket League section of the February Cricket magazine, and her story can be found online at cricketmagkids.com/contests.
She won third place in a previous Cricket contest. Her twin sister, Isabella, 13, and their brother, Alexander, 10, have been recognized by the magazine in the past.
Her parents are Natalie, an attorney, and John DeStefano, an educator.
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