For long years a bird in a cageBobbie, February 2010
Today, flying along with the clouds.
Like many bird fanciers decades ago, when I bought Bobbie Birdie I was told all that mattered was to make sure not to place his cage in a draft so he wouldn't get sick. But, unbeknownst to me, Bobbie was sick when I bought him. The vet recommended I return him but I was already in love with him. So I treated him, trained him and bonded with him. It was a bond that back then I thought would only last 10-12 years. The life expectancy for cockatiels is now 15-20 years and Bobbie lived to 19.
The life expectancy for captive birds (and all our pets, actually) rises as our knowledge of how to care for them does. Nutrition is the best example of this. Captive birds used to be fed mainly seeds but we now know that pet birds do not need as many carbohydrates nor do they burn as much fat as their wild cousins. It took me over five years to finally ween Bobbie away from seed and get him to eat more nutritional, organic pellets. I gave up a few times but would then read yet another article related to getting pet birds off seeds. I was reminded not to give up and that I hadn't really tried everything. I am proud to say that Bobbie even eventually enjoyed eating greens, carrots, radishes and a few kinds of fruit.
In middle age, Bobbie's hormones went crazy and he spent a lot of time "nesting" at the bottom of his cage (male cockatiels build nests and are excellent. attentive fathers) and became a feather picker. He picked his legs, chest and under his wings. Nowadays there are a lot of options for bird owners to help their pets with feather plucking but back when Bobbie started there was only an "if there isn't something physically wrong, nothing can be done" attitude. Many vets told me this. Our current avian vet talked to me once about hormone therapies, but Bobbie was quite old and set in his ways by then so we left well enough alone.
Bobbie's looks from his feather picking never bothered me but what made me sad was that I became limited in where I could take him because of fear he would get chilled more easily than if he had all of his feathers. I also dreaded a sunburn! But before Bobbie sported a bare chest, he went everywhere with me. Last week, Gryphon shared tales of his younger days as a shoulder cat, well, Bobbie rode on the other shoulder. And before you picture me looking like Radagast from "The Hobbit," let me tell you that Bobbie was very well potty trained. I also had a pocketful of napkins, just in case.
Everyone always asks if a parrot talks and, no, Bobbie never talked, at least not in the conventional sense. However, I always understood him. He had a chirp that sounded like "tweet," one that sounded like "Bobbie Birdie" and an impeccable wolf whistle. We played all kinds of
At Bobbi's last vet visit, he checked out just fine, but I asked the dreaded question of what I should do when the morning came that I would uncover his cage and he didn't chirp at me. It is important to have a vet examine a passed-on birds body to determine cause of death, especially when another bird is in the house. But instead of him dying alone like I feared, Bobbie took his last breath in my hands. I sang "You are my sunshine" to Bobbie every morning when I uncovered his cage for almost two decades and I was fortunate enough to sing it to him as he closed his eyes forever.
It has been three years this month since Bobbie left us. He was the most special little guy I have and probably will ever know. He was a continent of personality in a tiny colorful package. He was kind, loved kids, and ever so gentle. He never bit me or anyone hard enough to break the skin- and for any non-bird people reading this, that is very, very rare. Bobbie was with me through every change that a young adult can go through and he always made me smile. I appreciated his usually chipper attitude as well as his occasional grumpy old man stay away from me attitude. We all deserve to make boundaries especially when we get older, right? My beloved Bobbie Birdie still reminds me of the healing power of a whistle. Sometimes, I imagine I hear him calling to me from another room. Thinking of my dear orange-cheeked friend occasionally makes me whistle and a whistle always makes me smile.