Java Sparrows

18th October 2007, 07:22
On my first trip on 1923 Melampus/GMBZ the junior or fifth Engineer George Anderson did every night watch in port and never managed an evening run ashore throughout the entire voyage. I attended his wedding in Dunfermline and we later met up in Liverpool when he was coasting.
Having seen java sparrows for sale during the Melampus voyage and as I was about to go "deep sea" on Adrastus/GQZN, George asked if I could purchase a couple and deliver them to Leith Nautical on return, where he would be taking his chief's ticket.
Purchased the sparrows which were great company on the homeward run and much amusement to passengers on the BR trip to Edinburgh and thence down to LNC. Alas no George!
Fortunately there was a tropical bird enthusiast in my village who took them off my hands.
I thing George spent his entire seagoing career with BF. Anyone know?

19th October 2007, 12:22
R651400 your mentioning of Java Sparrows reminded me of a post I made ages ago - unfortunately, I don't know how to do one of those "here it is" thingies. It was in a thread about "Captain's Inspections" and here it is:

"Raybnz's dog story reminded me of returning to the ship one night in Bombay. A trader outside the gate sold me a couple of Java Sparrows that were probably as drunk as I was - they ran up my arm and went to sleep under my shirt collar.

I had a book shelf in my cabin which I turned into a bird house but it turns out that Java Sparrows are nasty b******s when they're sober - I couldn't get near them, but I was lumbered with them.

Needless to say, on the first Captain's inspection they were discovered and they had to go. Fortunately the Old Man was a bit of a bird lover and he let me keep them until we got to the next port. Unfortunately, after a nightmare time chasing the birds through the porthole, I looked out and saw a couple of soaring kites with what appeared to be grins on their faces.

I hope they made it and learned the perils of strong drink.

John T."

I Googled "Java Sparrows" and it turns out that this once prolific bird is now on the endangered side in the wild, so it looks like you may have done a good thing. Your birds' descendents may be looking out through bars but at least they're looking!

John t.

Tony Breach
19th October 2007, 23:55
Oh dear,

The following is verbatim from 'A Pocketbook of Hawai'i's Birds':

'Another tiny bird likeley to be seen on grassy lawns is the Java Sparrow, with bold white cheeks and a huge coral-pink bill. Java Sparrows sometimes travel in huge flocks & can be devastating to grain & other crops. Their importation into the U.S. has been prohibited for years, but they were slipped into Hawai'i anyway in the 1960s & are now spreading, unfortunately, like wildfire'.

They are beautiful birds but should have been left in their natural habitat. Hawai'i has a unique & delicate ecological infrastructure which is currently stressed. The Java Sparrows are sold in cages here in Wales for 6 each which saddens me.


20th October 2007, 00:48
It brings to mind an experience I had in the 1962-63 period when I was working at Eastham Locks. The lady I boarded with, Mrs "Mac", had lost her husband (a ship pilot on the Ship Canal, who had been found floating face downward sadly), and in sympathy one of the local Customs officers shanghaied the chief steward on a West Africa-bound ship and told him to bring back an African Grey parrot. This he duly did, and despite them being a prohibited import the bird was duly presented to Mrs "Mac".
By this time, the bird had picked up various phrases - "Hard-a-starboard" and "Let go aft" come to mind - and a quite considerable vocabulary of swearwords which modesty forbids me to mention.
The bird's favourite swear words were always to the fore when the local vicar came to call. It was also a pretty vicious brute. It loved crinkle cut chips, but you had to maintain eye contact throughout the process, otherwise your finger became a substitute chip.
My fellow boarder was heartily disliked by Mrs "Mac" and myself, and although he was quite frightened of the parrot I persuaded him to maintain eye contact whilst feeding it a chip. Of course my exclamation in the middle of this process caused the parrot to take a piece of his finger as well. His departure was well celebrated by both landlady and the remaining lodger.


RBH (Rodger)

Tai Pan
21st October 2007, 11:09
On Ulysses, we loaded about 1000 sparrows in cages, these were housed in the deck house under the aft mast. the middies job was to feed them, the were on a bonus for the survival rate. any dead ones had their feet cut off and kept, for the count on arrival Liverpool. quite a few died and midies humour, they had an odd number of feet, was it a three legged sparrow or a one legged sparrow. the stench in the deck house was unbelievable. the bosuns comments could not be repeated. this story is true.

28th October 2009, 22:37
I brought back a couple of java sparrows from Indonesia in 1960, complete with bamboo cage. As I remember I paid, in the local currency, 2 tins of State Express 555. My dad fell in love with them and kept them for about 3 years.