Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Highly Skilled, Position Needed

Willy the talking magpie

Express Staff Writer

Ralph Lapham rescued Willie the magpie from a catís clutches. Speechless at first, Willy has since been asking Lapham for money. Kids! Courtesy photo

Owner Ralph Lapham says he rescued Willy the magpie from the clutches of a cat when the bird was only a few weeks old. Though he and his wife fed the tiny bird for about a month, it wasn't until bird and man bonded during a four-day cross-country road trip from New Hampshire that Willy learned to talk.

"I talked to him the whole time," Lapham says. "By the time we got back, he was saying all kinds of things."

Among Willy's repertoire are phrases such as the standard "I'm a pretty bird," "Give me a kiss" and "Good boy," but Lapham says Willy also has a language of his own.

"I'll be in the den reading, and he'll start talking," Lapham says. "It sounds like a human being talking, but he uses these whistle sounds too. He'll babble to himself for quite a while."

Position seeking

Willy may be especially suited for fundraising, as one of his main phrases is "Give me five dollars." He is also quite personable, Lapham says. Maybe a professional greeter?

"When he and I were driving, sometimes he'd sit on the steering wheel," he says. "People would stop and wave."

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