This story does not have a happy ending. What it does have is an ending, closure, so that healing can begin. This is the story of my lovebird Jake who slipped out of the house a couple weeks ago. I remember vividly the last sighting I had of him. And my conviction he was gone forever.
Some years ago, a breeder friend of mine had sold Jake to a family that had a working mom and two teenage girls. Anytime they were home, Jake was allowed out of his cage. He lived a good life for a very sweet and tame lovebird. Outside of that happy home, things were not good. The mom lost her job, and then her house. And they gave Jake back to the breeder. He was only a year old.
The breeder didn’t want to sell Jake again, and she felt the best way to get another good home for him was to put him on the bird club’s opportunity drawing table. After months of not being able to attend the meetings, I managed to show up. And I managed to win Jake. It certainly was love at first sight for me.
Jake’s wings were clipped, so when my other lovebirds had out time, I would carry him in to the living room and put him up on the cages. We had ladders and chains going between the cages so that the birds could go all over. Many of those lovebirds could fly, and I loved sitting in the room while my flock of lovies circled and argued and checked me out. Some of the tamer birds would land on me and see if I had seeds in my pockets.
Soon, Jake claimed me as his own, and would chase off the others. His wings grew out, and he loved to perch on the chain holding the dining room lamp up, to go to the back bird room, to check out all the cages. He got more out time than any of the other birds. He was my special little love.
One day I got to take him to my place of work. I clipped his wings a few days before so that he would know he couldn’t dive off my shoulder. He did, anyway. He was mostly a hit with the staff, although there are always those who don’t like birds. One woman had had a bad experience as a child, and others complained about his shrill chirps. I enjoyed his company, even when he did jump off my shoulder and try to fly. Then like a bowling ball coming back up the return, he scuttled right back to me.
Jake suffered through the additions to the flock of many other birds, but none had as much impact on our time together as Maynard, the Amazon double yellow headed parrot. The two did not find coexistance an option, so one could be out only when the other was not.
Best photo I could get of Jake in the sink.
Parrots can act out just like our kids. Jake knew he wasn’t supposed to be on the kitchen floor. He loved to drink directly from the tap, and often got in to take a bath. But if he landed on the floor when I didn’t notice, he could have been stepped on. He started doing that more in recent weeks. Just wanted mom’s attention, I think.
He also started teasing the African Grays by going close to them in their cages, and even teasing Maynard. After the serious injury Fin received on Io’s cage, I grew sick with worry that Jake, too, would be damaged.
I thought about clipping his wings. I thought about it as in, if he doesn’t stop teasing the big birds, he’s getting clipped. He had so much fun in flying, however, that I just couldn’t do it. And a little part of me, a very conceited part, didn’t think my special little love would ever leave me.
Last week I told the story of how he got out. A couple days later, a woman saw my flyer in a local coffee shop, and called me. “I have bad news for you,” she said gently. “There’s been this bird that looks just like your bird in our back yard since the middle of July. On Friday, I found his body in the yard.”
They had disposed of the body. A hawk seems to have been the means of Jake’s death. I bet he walked right up to that predator and insulted his parents. He was two blocks away. If she had checked the lost and found ads when he first showed up in the yard. If I had walked another block in the other direction. If I had clipped his wings. If, if, if.
I believe Jake went to that yard because she kept chickens, and he could get to some seeds. I think he had a wonderful few days being a wild bird and only slightly dependent on people for things. I believe he died quickly, and maybe thought of me. But the fact is, he’s gone and I need to move on.
I want to credit the designer and artist of this great tote bag, and purchase one. But I can’t find the link. When I do, I will update this. ETA: Found it! http://www.zazzle.com/petopet/gifts?cg=196182749360404920
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.