Sometimes we stubbornly refuse to see how old our feathered companions are growing. Not on purpose, but just with blinders on. And maybe there’s another bird you think will be the next to go, so you are prepared for that. Then reality hits you, blind-sides you, and you fall apart.
We have lived in this home for nearly 13 years. I was so thrilled to have a nice yard that I called an ad to see about buying an aviary. The very nice lady who returned my call said the item had sold, but then she went on to tell me about the North County Aviculturists. We made plans to meet on the first Saturday of the month. (The club has since moved meeting places and meeting dates.)
The whole family went, even though not all of us were thrilled about it. I can’t tell you who the speaker was, or what they spoke on. But I do know that my daughter won a lovebird in the opportunity drawing. She was into the web comic, Mega Tokyo, so the bird was dubbed Piro and set up in her bedroom.
A week later, she let me know things weren’t working out between her and Piro. So he was moved to the living room. He’d been handfed, but as with most lovebirds, given a chance, he became less tame quickly. He never became a biter, just didn’t want to be close to people usually.
I never could exactly name his coloration. He was a peach faced lovebird, but he was yellow head to tail, with green and blue highlights. In my ignorance, I set him up with a female of the wrong species of lovebird. No eggs or babies. Oh well. Then I inherited a huge number of lovebirds (I had volunteered to run the NCA Bird Mart) to be put on the opportunity drawing table. None of them were tame. I kept the parents of all the babies, and the one cherry head, hoping for a female. A high percentage of cherries are female. She became Nana, and with Piro, had several seasons of multiple clutches.
Piro displayed a high aptitude for fatherhood. But even more so, he was a great mate. He took excellent care of Nana as she sat on her eggs. And even when there was no nest box, he was always with her. The picture is Piro on the left, Nana on the right, being camera shy.
The morning I came into the front room and Piro raised his voice to get my attention, I knew something had to be wrong. Poor little Nana, probably egg bound, had passed away. Piro didn’t leave her side until I took the body out. He called for her for a long time. It’s a painful process. I began looking for a new mate, mostly to keep Piro occupied. A friend had a cherry head female who was rather aggressive with young males. We decided to try seasoned mate Piro with Kira. Again, magic happened. I had a few clutches from them, but didn’t want to lose Kira.
Female birds are driven to lay eggs. They don’t know how not to do it, unless they have a clutch and then are raising babies. So many mornings, I would find Kira and Piro perched on a wire shelf, trying to keep an egg warm. Before long, the egg would roll off the wire and break. I did what I knew I could do to stop her. Moved things around in the cage. Moved the cage. Moved them to a new cage. Limited day light. Limited food. No baths. It didn’t work. Like deja vu, Piro called to me one morning. Kira was gone.
Piro became an uncle to the rescued lovies I got when a club member passed away. One of the babies still seemed fairly friendly, so we named it Lorrie and hoped for a girl. Piro and Lorrie got along swell. But they didn’t lay any eggs.
This was one of my favorite times with my birds, and especially the lovebirds. I would open all the cage doors, and the lovies would fly around in a beautiful varicolored flock. I would sit and read, but really watch their interactions. And curious as they are, they often came to see me. Not too close at first, then sometimes on my shoulders. Piro and Lorrie usually came first to say hello.
They also let the way on the ceiling fan merry-go-round. Obviously, before letting any flying birds out for free time, I check that the one ceiling fan in the house is off. The lovies would perch on the fan blades and flap their wings until it started turning.
The years have flown by. I found another female lovebird to bond with Piro. I actually tired her on few other birds, but there was no connection for her. Aura had been a pet but hadn’t been handled enough. I wondered if she would make a good breeder, but she was such a pretty diluted color that I was determined to try. I lucked in to some nice outdoor breeder cages, and set two up for lovebirds. I loved the fact that Piro was going to have fresh air, sunshine, lots of greens, and a devoted mate, at last. I hoped for babies, but that seemed less the point.
Whenever I cleaned or changed the water or put in fresh food, Piro always came close to say hello. Once I put in a nest box, I had to open it up to see Aura. But Piro became a ray of sunshine in his own right, flitting around the large cage. Two years passed, with the nest boxes pulled between breeding seasons. I put in open-front pigeon boxes for extra weather protection in the off seasons. Last winter, they did well, but we didn’t get as much rain as we have this winter.
Living with parrots as long as I have, there’s no missing the signs of a sick bird. After 3 solid days of rain, I got a chance to check on the outside birds. Piro sat on the edge of the pigeon box, eyes half closed, fluffed up. I rushed into the house, moved birds around until I had a cage available, and stuck a hot rock in to heat up. I netted Piro and Aura, and introduced them to the new cage.
But I was too late. His time had just come, and rain or no rain, I think he would have been on his way. He was a very old lovebird. http://lovebirdsinfo.blogspot.com/2007/03/what-is-lifespan-of-lovebirds.html In the wild, he would have lived 5 to 7 years. With me, he lived 12 years. And he left a legacy of beautiful birds behind him.
I thought we would lose Benny first. He’s the father bird that was donated years ago for the first Bird Mart I ran. He’s had a stroke or something, but gets around well enough and is not in any pain.
A wiser breeder would not have put a bird that old out to breed. I never could see Piro as a senior bird. He always had a youthfulness in his expression and his antics. His age snuck up on me. His passing leaves a little yellow hole in my heart.