According to records unearthed in a new study, the talking duck Ripper reportedly used the catchphrase repeatedly when mating after hearing his keeper pronounce the word
A duck was recorded in Australia muttering “you bloody fool” after learning to imitate its keeper.
The bird with the bird’s mouth called Ripper is said to have grown particularly fond of the mating catchphrase.
The hand-raised bird also learned to repeat the sound of its aviary doors opening and closing.
While other bird species are known to be able to “parrots” the human language, the talkative talent of the Australian musk duck has only just been revealed.
The Canberra Talking Duck, who lived more than 30 years ago, is believed to be the first documented account of the species that mimics human language.
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Ripper’s talents are only just beginning to emerge because a study of the talking duck was only published in the Royal Society’s recent journal Philosophical Transactions.
According to the study, Ripper was hand-raised in a nature reserve and learned to repeat the phrase often uttered by its owner.
The paper states, “The structure of the duck vocalizations suggests fairly sophisticated and flexible control over the voice-generating mechanism.”
Carel Ten Cate from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands heard about the talking duck and tracked down the now retired Australian scientist Peter J. Fullagar, who first noticed his mimicry 30 years ago.
He shared his footage of Ripper from the 1980s for the current study.
The animal behavior professor used software to confirm that the birds were repeating sounds from their surroundings.
In some cases, the noises were not heard until the first few weeks of life.
The “You damn fool!” and a clip mimicking the opening and closing of the aviary door were both recorded during Ripper’s mating demonstrations.
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Even though the recording sounds like “you bloody fool,” Ten Cate told it Guardian it was possible for Ripper to say “food” and add, “I can imagine the caretaker jokingly saying, ‘Okay, this is your damn meal”. ”
He made these noises in a repeating sequence, just as he normally learned the “whistle blow” from his flock to attract a mate.
The paper explains, “The whistle kick consists of a non-vocal splash component created by the feet hitting the water, followed by two different vocal components: a soft, low-frequency tone, followed by a much louder whistle.”
Another case was reported in the same Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in 2000, where a male duck mimicked the quacks of the Pacific black ducks he lived near while mating.
The study also documented cases of musk ducks in the UK who appear to mimic the sounds of other animals.
A UK duck at Pensthorpe Natural Park in Norfolk had been “coughing and” heard [mimicking] a snorting pony ”- but no recordings were known to prove the phenomenon.
Musk ducks tend to use their talents to learn the tall whistles from their older herdmates.
But those in captivity show human noises like closing doors and even phrases, according to the study.
This means that they learn “utterances” based on what they heard as infants.
Other species that learn this way include parrots, budgies, hummingbirds, certain songbirds, whales, seals, bats, elephants – and of course humans.