Bubba the Rescue Bird Both Sings and Speaks

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Rescued starling “Bubba” is no bird-brain. After surprising his keeper by speaking out of the blue, he has learned many other phrases and a tune that sounds very much like Yankee Doodle Dandy. (Image: Bernard Spragg via Flickr CC0 1.0)

In the southeastern Australian state of Victoria, a kind-hearted gentleman taught an orphaned starling how to whistle the notes of a popular tune.

Anthony Costa, 52, an opal miner, posted a short clip on Instagram and Twitter of their sweet bond and was floored by the outpouring of support he got from people all over the world. 

Costa gave the affectionate moniker, Bubba, to the bird which alludes to a particular being that one holds dear, for instance, a soulmate.  

Because Costa’s heart had been aching after the death of his beloved dog Splotch in 2019, his meeting with the blackbird came at an ideal time. Splotch had been a part of his life for 12 years before succumbing to cancer. When Splotch died, Costa was devastated, but six months later, in his front yard, he came upon a juvenile bird in distress and was once again inspired.

Costa told The Epoch Times, “I walked over expecting him to be scared, but instead when I reached down for him, he opened his mouth and started chirping for food and water, he was in very poor condition. At a guess I think he had been abandoned in the garden for a day or two, he was dehydrated and starving.”

A Shepparton native who has lived there his whole life, Costa played a critical role in the rescue and recuperation of Bubba.

He said, “Bubba and I have a very special bond. It is almost like he knows I saved him, and I can sense he loves me for it, I fell in love with Bubba from the moment I picked him up in the garden. Bubba actually spoke before he whistled.”

“My partner and I would talk to him constantly, then one night out of the blue he said, ‘What are you doing?’ He literally blew our minds!”

Costa and his girlfriend then realized that Bubba was a lot smarter than they had thought at first. After that, he had the task of teaching the bird everything he could, and Bubba soaked it up like a sponge.

Starlings have a remarkable vocal range and are excellent at mimicking what they hear.

“Bubba really only likes to learn from me and copies the things I teach him,” Costa said. “Other family members have tried to teach him different things but he seems to not want to learn unless it’s me teaching him or it is a noise he has heard a lot of times and likes.”

“He speaks quite a few words, and small sentences, things such as, ‘Bubba likes tickles,’ ‘You’re so pretty,’ ‘Come here, come on,’ ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Do it!’ and ‘What is it Bubba?’”

A longtime football fanatic, Costa started to teach Bubba the anthem of the AFL Hawthorn football club. Their success is a source of pride and delight! He explained, “I started whistling the first two verses, and he eventually got it.”

During his music lessons with Costa, Bubba is an enthusiastic student, and he is even able to accept constructive criticism with humility and tolerance. He is always willing to give it another go and make improvements to the arrangement of the chosen tune.

“He never stops amazing us, from mimicking the phone ringing to saying ‘You’re so pretty. If Bubba likes the sound of something, he will learn to copy it,” Costa added.

Wisdom from the animal kingdom

The purity of nature found in many animals can be instrumental in awakening the virtues of mankind, such as kindness and mindfulness. Their simplicity may prompt us to speak plainly, and disseminate information more patiently and truthfully. They may even foster in us a sense of hope and security, and help us achieve the important feeling of oneness in this world.

  • Simone Jonker worked in NTD Inspired for two years. She wrote light articles and inspiring stories.