Thomas Jefferson Loved Dick


Throughout American history many of the men tasked with leading the free world have owned pets. Obama had a dog, Coolidge had an alligator and President Jefferson had a mockingbird called Dick. 

Jefferson was apparently a pretty big bird nerd, owning many songbirds over his lifetime, however his favourite bird of all, was Dick. We know this because although the President owned several Mockingbirds, the only one ever mentioned by name in his diary is Dick, leading historians to conclude that Jefferson likely had a soft spot for Dick for some reason.

Pictured: Not Dick.
Pictured: Not Dick.

Dick was apparently an excellent example of the species and was known to be able to sing several popular songs of the era on command as well as mimic a number of other birds seemingly for Jefferson’s own amusement. He was, by all accounts, a very talented bird who became a staple of the Jefferson household.

It’s unclear when and how Dick learned to sing and whether or not Jefferson himself took the matter of teaching Dick a few tricks into his own hands. What we do know however is that Dick was always by Jefferson’s side when he was alone, usually perched on his shoulder. Though Dick had his own cage, the President seldom kept him in it and the President’s staff would often walk into his Monticello office to find Dick flying around the room. 

"Dick sings." - Actual quote from Jefferson's diary.
“Dick sings.” – Actual quote from Jefferson’s diary.

Jefferson was so fond of Dick that even when he was in the White House, Dick was allowed to do what he wanted and the President could usually be found signing papers with Dick on his head. When he was bored Jefferson would play his violin, much to the amusement of Dick who’d sing along to whatever tune Jefferson made with the instrument.

However, by far the greatest trick Jefferson taught his feathered friend was to gently take seed and bits of food from his own mouth. Meaning yes, it is not incorrect to say that “President Thomas Jefferson occasionally had Dick in his mouth while in office“.

Isn’t history fucking great?