Johnny Walker, myna with a temperament 

26 Mar, 2023 09:59 IST|Sakshi Post
Photo Credit: Ashwin Vishwanathan

There are many things I don’t remember about Johnny Walker. There are, however, a great many things I do remember about Johnny Walker, and here are just a few of them. 

I don’t remember how Johnny Walker came to Banerghatta Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. But, I do remember how quickly he adopted our quirky family of humans and other assorted animal species. Johnny Walker was a juvenile Indian Myna (Common Myna), and he chose to grow up human. He would tirelessly walk behind the volunteers as they went about the chores at the centre. If no one was walking around, he would take the time to eat, poop, preen or even take power naps. 

Johnny Walker was quite the chatterbox. One of my clearest memories is of him chattering constantly while using Saleem as a perch during the afternoon breaks. If Saleem had managed to lock him out of his room while he took a nap, Walker would be found preening by the kitchen sink and twittering to himself. I’m pretty sure he had plenty to gossip about; I just wish I could understand. 

Like most teenagers in India, Johnny Walker wanted to become a software engineer and learn to play the guitar. He loved the keyboard and would try to type by pecking the keys. And it was always fun to watch him pulling at the guitar strings while Saleem was playing. 

His interest in the computer was always going to be an expensive hobby, given his myna’s lack of bowel control. He followed me dutifully into the computer room one day and sat on the monitor while I typed out a report. And, like a true teenager, he fell asleep. Saleem warned me that he would poop all over the computer and advised me to chase him away. But I didn’t want to wake the sleeping bird. Well, you know what happens next! Johnny Walker awoke a few minutes later and immediately pooped into the vents in the top of the monitor, the monitor went blank and smoke billowed from the back. And that was the end of a generous friend’s donation! 

Chatterbox though he was, Johnny Walker did not like loud noises, especially people talking loudly or screaming. This irritated him to the extent that he would attack people. His favourite mode of attack was a flying kick. If not that, he would grab hold of any unprotected part of the human body with his beak and twist. Fingers were the most common and painful targets. I once made the mistake of calling Saleem loudly when he was quite a distance away and was the recipient of a flying kick to the face. Another unfortunate target of his wrath was the elderly administrative manager of the centre who has a rather loud voice. On a visit to the centre one day, Johnny Walker mistook his friendly, high volume conversation with Saleem to be an argument and flew straight into the man’s face. The rehab centre was really a more civil and polite place while under the rule of Johnny Walker. 

And then one day, after weeks of being the centre of attention, a juvenile Brahminy Myna was admitted into the rehab centre. Suddenly, the attention that had all been Walker’s was divided. The Brahminy was happy to have an elder cousin, a similar bird just with a darker colour, and followed him around mimicking him and asking for food. This drove Johnny Walker to distraction and he truly hated the Brahminy. 

And so, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to rid himself of the Brahminy Myna when the Brahminy Myna was attacked by a Shikra one afternoon when none of us was around. That was when I was witness to the bigheart he had. Walker took it upon himself to save his cousin. He attacked the Shikra with his flying kicks until the Shikra couldn’t take it anymore and had to let go of the Brahminy Myna. 

I thought that he had finally become friends with the Brahminy myna. But no such luck! Johnny Walker considered it his duty to rescue the Brahminy Myna chick. Once the chick was safe, he went back to keeping his distance. Ultimately, the Brahminy Myna realized that there was no point trying to hang around with Johnny Walker and started making friends with the wild birds around the rehab centre and slowly flew away to freedom. 

Johnny Walker hung around the shelter for many days, now flying around while people walked from one zone to another to clean or feed animals. But now the Shikra’s eye was on him and he was often the target of the Shikra’s raids. 

The other thing I don’t know about was what happened to Johnny Walker. One day, he completely disappeared and no one knows whether he flew away or become prey to the Shikra. 

                        — Authored by Abhisheka Krishnagopal and En Chiang Lee 

                             Photo Credit: Ashwin Vishwanathan

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