The song Tico-Tico no Fuba, like Carmen Miranda, came to us from Brazil. Believe it or not, the song is about a bird. The Portuguese lyrics tell the story of the tico-tico, a local name for the Rufous-collared Sparrow. Like so many birds, tico-tico was named for its song. In the song, the bird keeps coming back to the singer's yard to dine on her cornmeal, piled in a backyard granary. Tico-tico loves her cornmeal.
Rufous-Collared Sparrow - Tico-Tico
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Several bars of Tico-Tico no Fubá, sung by Carmen Miranda]
Can you name that tune? Here’s a hint: Carmen Miranda – adorned with her signature fruit basket of a hat – danced and sang this lively samba alongside Groucho Marx in the 1947 movie Copacabana. [A bar or two of Tico-Tico no Fubá sung by Carmen Miranda]
The song is Tico-Tico no Fubá and, like Carmen Miranda, came to us from Brazil. Believe it or not, the song is about a bird.
The Portuguese lyrics tell the story of the tico-tico, a local name for the Rufous-collared Sparrow. The Rufous-collared Sparrow is a handsome, familiar backyard bird found through much of Latin America. And like so many birds, tico-tico was named for its song [Rufous-collared Sparrow song, emphasizing the tico-tico portion of the song]
Back to the lyrics: It seems the bird with the musical name, tico-tico, keeps coming back to the singer’s yard to dine on her cornmeal, piled in a backyard granary. There are plenty of earthworms and fruit to eat, but tico-tico prefers her dwindling supply of cornmeal. She offered it birdseed – and let the cat out to chase it – but to no avail. Tico-tico loves her cornmeal. [Rufous-collared Sparrow song]
So whenever you hear this memorable samba [A quick bit of Tico-Tico no Fubá instrumental version], think of that persistent little sparrow atop a pile of cornmeal. For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Song of the Rufous-collared Sparrow provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by T.A. Parker.
Tico-Tico no Fubá sung by Carmen Miranda
Album: Carmen Miranda recorded in the '30s.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
2013 Tune In to Nature.org October 2017 Narrator: Mary McCann
Note: the music for Tico Tico was written in the early 20th C. by Zequinha de Abreu (1880-1935) and the Portuguese several decades later by Eurico Unidos. A completely different set of lyrics in English.