Wednesday, May 15, 2019

all birds go to heaven

It is with much sadness that I share the news that my beloved parakeet Charlie passed away a few weeks ago. He had been showing signs of illness for a few days, so I took him to the local exotic animal hospital where they kept him warm, hydrated, and fed until he died. While I'm very sad to lose my little feathery friend, it wasn't completely unexpected based on his age (almost 10) and some physical signs he had been showing for the last year or so. I am glad he didn't suffer long, and that he passed away in warmth and comfort.

I bought Charlie from a local bird shop/breeder in the summer of 2009. I was living in a new city, recovering from a breakup, and mourning the loss of my goldfish Ichy (a faithful companion for 6 years). On my first visit to the bird nursery, I watched the group of newly hatched parakeets and tried to pick the most active and social of the bunch. I certainly couldn't choose based on looks... they had barely any feathers! Charlie came over to investigate me and peck at my fingers, and I knew he was the one. The shop owner put a dab of red marker on his forehead to mark him as "claimed," and I returned home to await the day he'd be ready to come live with me. A few weeks later, I collected him from the store in a little cardboard box and drove him home to my first apartment. In my first photos of him settled into his new digs, you can still see the remnants of the red marker on his head!

Over the next few months, I spent time training him to step onto my hand and to sit on my shoulder. I left the radio quietly playing for him when I went to work, so he wouldn't have to sit in silence. Though I could never understand any of his phrases, he did mimic human speech sounds, and I wonder if he was picking up things from the radio. Mostly he just sounded like R2D2.

Charlie always greeted me with a chirp or a little "weet?" sound. He had a distinct whistle for different people, often repeating my lower-toned wolf whistle back to me and using my mom's higher-toned whistle to greet her.

His favorite things were: taking showers in the kitchen sink, my watch, toes (both his and mine), and salty snacks. He wasn't alway the smartest bird, and spent his whole life trying to figure out how to open the door to the cage (something my first parakeet figured out very quickly). He also spent a lot of time hanging on the side of the cage, picking his toes off the wires one at a time, until he went crashing to the bottom of the cage. Not the sharpest crayon in the box.

Charlie even had his 15 minutes of fame when Dan was on Jeopardy! During the contestant interviews, Alex Trebek asked Dan about the pet parakeet, and Dan told him about Charlie's R2D2 sounds. Famous!

I miss you lots, sweet bird. I miss seeing you run to the side of the cage to greet me when I uncover you in the morning. I miss your constant whistling and chatter; the house is quieter without you... and not in a good way. Please don't read into it too much that Mae wants to immediately replace you with a new bird. ("No? Okay, how 'bout a doggy? No? Okay, we'll get a kitty.") I hope you are enjoying everything that birdy heaven has to offer. You deserve it.

1 comment:

  1. He was so beautiful I’m sorry for your lost. I lost my cockatiel in January. I miss him so much. His name was Merlot. Very good bird but he is in my heart now forever. God bless you and your family your babies beautiful hope she grows up healthy and happy.