It’s 5:30 a.m. and I just got in from burying my 28 year old green cheeked Amazon in the yard. I knew something was up with him, but it was the alarmed squeaking and wing-flapping from my parakeets that clued me in that something was amiss.
And when I looked to see if there was something running around that shouldn’t be, I looked in the bottom of Buddy’s cage.
And he was down there, not moving at all.
I wrote about him last year when he was really ill in October. He’d been leaving runny discharges maybe once or twice a month since, and when I’d try to check on him he’d seem totally fine and eat normally again. And like my dad who bought and raised him as a chick, he was stubborn and wouldn’t let me take him to get checked out. He hated leaving the cage and would try to bite me if I wanted to do so. Cleaning it with him in it was an exercise in attempting mutual temper management as I invaded his space and he would do that warning screech/squawk and rear back if my knuckle got too close.
I noticed last night that he hadn’t touched his food much if at all the past two days, and actually went for the fruit first this week. That probably should’ve clued me in that he was feeling lousy. Now that I think about it, I feel like he willingly renounced his title as the Loudest Thing In The House about four days ago.
I guess working all day yesterday, I was in and out and tired and just not paying attention.
But something was bugging me most of the past 24 hours. I’ve probably had two hours of sleep before now. Before I put the cover over him last night, I noticed he looked incredibly sleepy and not so good, so I tried to clean his cage a bit and get him to move a little so could see his movement. He had enough in him to get that offended screech/squawk going, but it was definitely less than half his usual volume. His cage paper was very wet when I changed it, and I pulled up two layers instead of the usual one (I use freezer paper because it doesn’t fall apart and he won’t try to eat–he used to do that with newspaper and get really sick).
I spent a good 20 minutes trying to talk with him. He looked pitiful and I’d hoped I could pet him, but he still wouldn’t let me near. I had been thinking about death quite a bit lately (with all this virus shit going around, probably no wonder), but I admit I didn’t expect what I saw in that cage, him making himself puffed up and yet smaller, perched next to the water bowl, not walking.
My new roommate was hanging out with some old friends she reconnected with overnight and I didn’t want to bug her–and it was REALLY late–but I was planning to when she came in because she knows quite a bit about birds.
I’m still gonna pick her brain, though, and see if it was just an old-age thing, or something else.
Just sucks that her teen daughter’s most fervent admirer (at least, that I’ve seen) has flown the coop permanently. Yet I realized that the past week, he wasn’t flirting very much or primping and preening when she was around. She’d always inspire him to stand tall on his perch and just talk his head off, or try to in his Buddy-ese.
Well, I can’t say I believe in an afterlife anymore, but I hope whatever was bugging him didn’t hurt much and was short. He didn’t sound in duress at all when I was here, just quiet most of the time and not talkative.
So, I spent the past half hour, after burying him, taking all the food and screw-on perches out of the cage and I set it on the porch so I could clean it out properly in the daylight, when the heat of the day would help dry it off after hosing it down. I’ve also got some rusted areas I’d like to touch up with spray paint before putting it in storage… or whatever the hell I plan to do with it.
I swear my shoes were soaked going through that tall grass (rained every day but one this week, and I’d counted on doing yardwork today). I was more worried that I’d end up slipping or stumbling and then drop that poor bird in the tall grass and have to search for it to put it in the hole I dug in the foggy dark.
My dad bought Buddy. He bought it from a lady that raised all kinds of birds, and it was fun going to help her out. I used to have video of him feeding the chick that mushy cereal stuff with an oral syringe by hand (back when video cameras were big and bulky and held VHS tapes). He did that for weeks before the bird was old enough for seeds and the like and we finally brought it home.
Buddy loved my dad and dad would take him out and play with him for the first few years, but when dad got sicker, dad stopped going to him and visiting or playing with him and Buddy became a bit of a pissy nut. When I moved us into my new place, I didn’t want to keep him in some side room–I put him right next to the back door where there was plenty of sunlight and he could see what was going on far more. His disposition improved.
I’m just mad that, even though he was loud and annoying first thing in the morning back in the day with dad, I’d rather he wasn’t shut up in some side room most of the day, too. He was in there for well over 20 years and became more crabby each year. But I couldn’t move the cage myself or convince dad to let me get help doing it, because by then that big old cabinet he sat on was the only furniture big enough to take him… at least, until I found the attachable legs and storage grate that held it steady. I can thank my neighbors–the same ones that moved in with me–for helping me find those and attach them.
So, I’m gonna go sit on the couch in a daze and do mindless paper-shuffling until I get tired enough to just crash and sleep some more. 28 years together and Buddy is gone. Even though he acted like he hated me, I think he finally realized I was the one that had been feeding his feathered butt the past 15 years and began to lighten up. I could even pet him once in a while, a few strokes on the back of his neck before he’d whip his head aside and try to bite me.
Well, you win some, you lose some.
So, the “squawking green chicken” is what I’m sure my dogs thought of him. I’ll miss the funny mind-games Buddy would play with the pups, cackling at them when they got too wound up and active because of his noise.
Funny that he was so camera-shy, though: