Bird Brain

by Charles McGrath

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Remember the old saying "Bird Brain". It was a derogative word for someone's intelligence.

In the 1960's I owned an Old English Game bantam bird. The Old English Game fowl represents among the oldest strains of the world's purpose-bred fighting birds and fighting cocks were used to incite Roman soldiers as they went in to battle.

These birds were very aggressive to other roosters and they weren't afraid to fight with their spurs. But our Old English Game bird was a family pet that we affectionately called "Charley". We had a lot of fun with Charley and he chased many a neighborhood kid out of our backyard.

A bird has a brain that is very sensitive to temperature. The body temperature of birds I believe is almost 10 degrees higher than a human's (I’m sure everyone is interested now). In handling a lot of birds I discovered that if you covered their head with both hands it could be mesmerized. Why? I came to the conclusion that it was caused by the elevation of it brain temperature. So much for that!

My children, when they lived in Newark, enjoyed and learned from their exposure to our many and strange pets. Even their playmates, that not unlike my daughters are now in their 40's, still remember them with humor if not affection.

Above are two pictures of our beloved Charley from Newark.

In the first picture he is walking around our backyard with Ruby (his hen friend). In the second picture I mesmerized him and he is laying on his back with his feet in the air. This condition lasted for around 20 seconds and he would get up and run around like nothing happened.

These animals and are our relationship with them in Newark provided a lifetime of memories for many.

Now when you hear the name" Bird Brain' you may think of Charley (my namesake).

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