On my first day at BIRD TALK, I was given a stack of flashcards bearing colorful parrot portraits and their corresponding genus/species. My task was to memorize the names — both common and scientific — of parrots commonly kept as companions. I was playfully told by Melissa Kauffman, BIRD TALK’s editor at the time, that there would be a pop quiz.
I quickly flipped through the deck to find my own birds’ profile cards. I knew Ollie, Gracie and Elvis’ common names, nanday conure, cockatiel and cockatiel, respectively, but I had no clue what their genus/species names were, as it never occurred to me to look them up. I am not blessed with a photographic memory (unlike senior associate editor, Jessica Pineda, who can practically cite every species profile we’ve run in BIRD TALK by issue date, going back five years), so I had to come up with some way of committing their scientific names to memory.
For Ollie, the flashcard said, “Nanday conure: Nandayus nenday.” The 1985 song “Rock Me Amadeus” by Austrian pop musician Falco popped into my head; I substituted “Amadeus” with “Nandayus,” and soon I was humming, “Nandayus, Nandayus, Nandayus ... rock me Nandayus.” I’ve hummed this tune to greet Ollie almost every morning since; however, after reading “Name Changers” by Joseph M. Forshaw — yes, the Joseph M. Forshaw, author of “Field Guide To Parrots of the World,” our reference bible — my tune has changed.
You see, the nanday has recently been reclassified to the Aratinga genus of conures, specifically to Aratinga nenday. Some of you might be surprised to learn that other conures, as well as cockatoos, have had scientific name changes as well.
While he’s still the same old Ollie, “Nandayus, Nandayus, Nandayus” Falco style, has lost a bit of its edge. Perhaps, the rousing version of “Hallelujah Chorus” from the 18th-century German composer George Frideric Handel will work — “Aaaratinga! Aratinga, Aratinga, Arratinga!” Now that's fitting for a bird that thinks he’s God’s gift to mankind.
**For the full issue, pick up the September 2011 issue of BIRD TALK at your local retailer or by purchasing a PDF download here.**
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