He goes into another pet shop and asks for a canary—no luck. “But”, says the shop owner, “I do have a parakeet, and if you file the beak just so, it can be made to sound just like a canary.” He goes on to explain that filing off too much beak will jeopardize the bird’s life, due to the potential for drowning when he takes a drink. The fellow finally decides that there is some merit to these claims and buys the parakeet. “Besides”, he thinks to himself, “parakeets are much cheaper.”
His next stop is a hardware store, where he wanders into the file section, holding his recently purchased bird. The owner wanders by and asks of he needs some help. The new bird owner sheepishly explains how he intends to make his parakeet sing like a canary.
The hardware store owner knowingly picks up a file and hands it to him. “Here, a Nichols #2 bastard file. But be careful not to file too much off, or the poor beastie might drown.” The bird and file owner thanks the hardware store owner and leaves for home.
A few weeks later, the bird owner wanders into the hardware store. The owner, recognizing him, asks how he made out with the parakeet. The fellow looks down and sadly reports “Bird’s dead”.
The hardware store owner shares his sorrow and asks “Filed off too much beak?”
To which the former bird owner replies “Nah, he was dead when I took him out of the vise.”
Source: Miss Cellania