Today in the wee hours of the morning I saw an ad for this on TV (warning: autoplay video at the link). It is being marketed as the perfect pet—no upkeep and no bother, and yet reactive to your presence: a mechanical parakeet that moves its head and tail and sings its not-especially-mellifluous parakeet song when you look at it.
“Head & Tail Feathers Move Realistically!” “Sits on its Perch…Or Your Finger!” Has it come to this? Apparently.
Perfect Polly’s promoters might consider it flawless (or would certainly like you to think so), but Amazon customers who’ve ordered it seem to consider it a piece of bird excrement. It’s not the concept they have trouble with (after all, they liked it enough to have purchased it), it’s the execution. Apparently the bird is shoddily made and doesn’t quite work, and the its voice is very faint.
But for me the toy conjures up Hans Christian Anderson’s cautionary tale “The Nightingale”:
Then the artificial bird had to sing alone. It was just as great a success as the real one, and then it was so much prettier to look at; it glittered like bracelets and breast-pins.
It sang the same tune three and thirty times over, and yet it was not tired; people would willingly have heard it from the beginning again, but the emperor said that the real one must have a turn now-but where was it? No one had noticed that it had flown out of the open window, back to its own green woods.
That’s not the end of the story, of course.