And the winner is...
Sparkie put 3,000 rivals to flight in 1958 when he won the BBC International Cage World Contest for talking budgies. By the time he had won this, he was about three-and-a-half years old. He was so good that he was not allowed to take part again!
|Image © Kiwi's Angels|
With the fame came the fortune. Within a couple of years Sparkie was rich enough to never have to worry about where the next bowl of Trill was coming from. He even had £1,000 in his own bank account.
Sparkie's fame spread far and wide. His voice was even used on the Bird Mimicry CD in the British Library.
|Image © Tesco Books|
In true Geordie language, Sparkie chirped out: "Wor little spuggy ran oop the wahter spoot. The rain came down and washed the spuggy oot."
For anyone south of Newcastle the rhyme tells how a small sparrow was stuck in a drainpipe before being washed out by the rain. It is one of the nursery rhymes that Sparkie was taught as a young budgie.
The 1958 record
Sparkie even made his own record, which sold over 20,000 copies. The record was issued by Capern’s, the budgie seed company for whom Sparkie made commercials, to help owners teach their birds to talk.
|Image © Kiwi's Angels|
When Sparkie died, he was stuffed by the best taxidermist in London and taken on a tour of Britain in an exhibition of his life and work, before coming back to the Hancock Museum in 1996. Sparkie Williams was then acclaimed as the world’s most outstanding talking bird in the Guinness Book of Records.
Everything He Ever Said is the name of the exhibition that opened in December 2002 in Newcastle's Hancock Museum.
At the museum, you could also get t-shirts printed with a couple of catch phrases from Sparkie, including: "I'm just a crazy mixed up kid" and "What are you looking at?"
The exhibition also included Mattie Williams's diary, which recorded how she trained Sparkie to talk, alongside a photograph of Mattie and Sparkie. The real Sparkie was not in the exhibition, as he stayed at his permanent home in another part of the Hancock Museum.
His display has been updated recently and visitors can now hear him talk after Hancock staff transferred the original reel-to-reel tapes of his performances on to digital CD.
Photo © FRANCESCO GUIDICINI.
Sparkie: Cage And Beyond also features further recordings from the Sparkie archives of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.