Magazine’s market flies away

These are hard times for magazines. Newsweek is struggling. People’s circulation fell 18.6 percent in the first half of this year. Time lost 31 percent

And now Bird Talk magazine will chirp, tweet and warble no more.

After 30 years, the publication whose centerfold models included macaws, parrots and cockatoos no longer will arrive in the mailboxes of its 35,000 subscribers. The magazine’s swan song was the September edition, which focused on topics such as discovering the bulbul, which is, of course, a short-necked slender passerine.

“This is the end of an era, a sad statement on the current state of the country and a significant loss to all current and future parrot owners,” lamented one faithful reader in a New York Times article.

Most lists of sad statements on the current state of the country probably wouldn’t have the loss of a magazine about birds in their top five. And I say that with all due respect to current and future parrot owners.

But maybe I’d feel differently if I’d ever been a bird owner. The list of critters that have freeloaded at my house includes dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, mice, fish and a tarantula, but I never could understand why I’d want one more thing in my house that could screech at me.

We did have a cuckoo clock once, and it was all I could do to keep from strangling that thing when it came out of its house every hour and drove me nuts with its cuckooing.

My grandmother used to have a series of canaries, all of which were named Chipper. Every once in a while one of them would get out of its cage and flutter through the house in a panic while grandma ran around trying to catch it in her apron. That was fun. And my loony Romanian aunt had a parakeet which, she insisted, spoke Romanian. We had to take her word for that, though, because no one else in the family spoke Romanian.

Before I was married, a woman I was dating said she’d always wanted a parakeet, so I bought one for her. She named it Bob, I told her I thought that was a goofy name for a parakeet of indeterminate sex and shortly after that we broke up. Which is what I get for giving her the bird.

Still, even though it’s not necessarily a sad statement on the current condition of our country, readers of Bird Talk are entitled to a certain amount of sadness over the loss of their magazine.

I remember how I felt when Gourmet stopped publishing and I no longer could see all those great recipes for coq au vin and duck a l’orange.

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