Then yesterday morning, I found my beloved little parrot, Boncuk, passed away on the bottom of his cage. I think I went into shock for a while as it was so unbelievably strange to see his little form not animated with his indomitable spirit. He was my cuddly quaker, the one of my two who liked a good scritch under the chin and nightly kisses on the top of his head. Quakers are tough little birds that usually live to be 15-30 years. Jukes was only 12, and he was a loud, bossy, territorial pickle, but he loved his mama. He was the little bird that dragged himself on one leg from the bird room to the kitchen to find me when another bird had nipped him and nearly severed his leg. Dr. Carol was amazing in fixing up his tiny leg bone, and he was fine after that. Healthy and happy, for most of his life.
Lately though, he was not as happy a bird. His flight feathers were either not growing in or were being plucked from his wings by his bonded mate. I tried separating them but it was worse -- both birds screeched for each other and as soon as they were reunited preened and cuddled so much I felt cruel in keeping them apart. So, together they lived in an open cage on a table closest to the kitchen. First birdies to get a good morning, and last birdies to get a good night. My winter vacation to-do list included "Take Juki to see Carol." Of all my parrots though, Jukes was the happiest diving into his food bowl in the morning and rifling through it to get the peas, or carrots, or whatever he felt like that day. He would hop around animatedly as I placed the bowl down, shouting at me to get with it and feed him faster. Then, he'd dive his little head in and toss food everywhere, and hopefully eat a little, too. Twice a day, always happy for his food.
The night before he died, he did the same, diving into some seeds and having a lot to say about it. He then jumped to the floor and waddled around, exploring, until I picked him up and gave him some cuddles. I kissed the top of his head and told him he was my best little green man. I kissed his beak and he made kissy noises back to me and said "Nite nite, nite nite." I looked at his cage and noticed his rope perch was really worn, so got a new one and set it up so that he'd have a new place to sit in the morning. Then, I turned out the light. I am so grateful that I had not just walked by his cage and said a quick "goodnight" that night.
In the morning I got up, took my mouthful of medications, and made coffee. Like always, I numbly sit at the computer while I wait for both coffee and meds to kick in. My back is to the Quaker's cage, about six feet away. The room was dark and quiet, I thought nothing of it. Was he still alive? Did he pass away alone when I was right there and could have comforted him? I will never know, and I will never forgive myself for not checking in on the birds before being selfish and sitting on my arse with coffee. Finally when I went in and put the light on to get the birds up and fed, I saw his little, beautiful form, immobile, silent. His brother quaker was frantic at this point, and Hapi had flown to the cage and watched quietly as I picked him up. He understood. The bird I held in my hand was a shell. It looked older than Boncuk ever did. It's eyes were partially closed and looked nowhere. It's feathers looked spotty and rough. This was not my baby bird. He was gone to the place where all my babies wait for me, I hope, in perfect health and perfect feather. With no worries or concerns.
Fly free my little Boncuk, no more cages, no more annoying domestic partner, no more pain in your wings or anywhere else. My heart is broken but I understand your need to go. I sincerely hope he is, wherever, flying around Tilly's head, bugging Toby, and feeling free. This life is full of surprises, isn't it? And they aren't always good ones. Ah, life. What's the plot?