Pretty Bird My Cup–What Color’s Yours?

This was a game we played frequently in our family when I was a kid. One person was “it” and would choose a color. This person would be armed with a cup of water and a spoon. Players took turns naming colors–you wanted your color choice to be unusual and therefore unlikely to be the one “it” had chosen. If you were the unfortunate person who named the color “it” had chosen, you received a spoonful of water thrown at you (if you were lucky–often it was much more than a spoonful) and you became “it”.

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I had no idea this game had been passed down for generations until I read my great-great-aunt’s account of playing “Pretty Bird in my Cup”, “Color, Color, What Color is it?” as a child, which at some point got shortened to “Pretty Bird My Cup–What Color’s Yours?”

Some of my sisters still play this with their kids (some with a spray bottle!!), making at least 5 generations of children in our family growing up playing this game. I don’t know where it originated, or how many generations played before my great-great-grandma, but it is a game that now holds much more meaning to me as I think of how it has passed through the generations.

Do you have a game in your family that has been passed down through the generations?

14 thoughts on “Pretty Bird My Cup–What Color’s Yours?

  1. I learned it from someone whose ancestors had been in East Texas since they got land there as bounty for fighting in the Texas revolution. They played it with a thimble full of water as, “Pretty bird in my cup, what’s your choice?” What do you think about the possibility that the phrase/question is the rhythm of a Southern bird call?

  2. I’m pleased and surprised and as grateful as all get out. I thought Pretty Bird in My Cup was a game my aunt made up. We played it when I was a girl.

    Thank you for this. It means a lot.

    Be well.

  3. My great-grandmother played this game before the Civil War…she lived in Thomas County, Georgia. it’s one of a number of games she mentions in her unpublished autobiography.

  4. We played a variation that went “my bird’s a pretty bird, what sort’s yours?” If you guessed the type of bird, you got a wet rag thrown at your face. Until I saw this I thought someone in my family had just made the whole thing up. This was my mother’s side of the family, who lived in the Appalachian mountains.

    1. We also played the “wet rag” version, and used types of birds. We played on my grandmother’s front porch. I never knew of any spelling and we never used a cup so when I finally stopped to think about writing it down, I thought it was “Pretty bird, mic up.” 😆

    2. We also played the wet rag version using types of birds. We played on my grandmother’s front porch. I never knew it was “my cup” because we didn’t use a cup. I always thought it was “mike up!” No idea what that would have meant. Lol

    3. My grandmother, also from the Appalachian mountains, told me about the same game. The way she cracked up laughing when explaining that if someone guesses the bird, you “throw a wet rag in their face,” made me wonder if she was even serious. I really got a kick out of your comment, since it seems to be the exact same thing.

  5. My grandma played this with all her grandkids, but she called it My Bird, Pretty Bird. She would sit on the couch with a cup of water in her hand and her other hand in the water. If we guessed her color she splashed water on us. She was the on one that was “it”. But we knew when the game was over because the last one to guess the right color got the whole cup of water thrown at them.
    This is a huge memory for all of us grandkids, we even put “my bird, pretty bird” on her flowers last year at her funeral. This year I bought a Jeep in her favorite color and named it My Bird.

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