From Zero to Five to Zero

The last sun conure in my flock passed away recently. I’m amazed to find myself without a sun conure in the house. Because of my circumstances, I doubt I will have another one, but they have all been sweet, funny, intelligent parrots to have around.

Zazu
Zazu

 

Back before Facebook, I was in a group called Bird Fun and Friends on Yahoo. Someone would post something, and people would reply to that and more people would reply to that and soon the post was a dozen screens long. However, some of us would <snip> the thread and make things easier for everyone. And that was where I read a post from a man just a couple hours north of me about a sun conure.

According to the gentleman, five-year-old Zazu had belonged to his wife. She passed away a year ago, and he hadn’t had the bird out of his cage in all that time. He was looking for a good home for the parrot, no charge, cage included. How could I say no?

At that time, I mostly had lovebirds and cockatiels and finches. A conure was going to be a step up the parrot ladder, as it were, to a bigger bird with more personality. And since Zazu had belonged to a woman, I was sure he would bond to me. Mike and I drove up to get him. His cage just fit in the back of the Toyota Matrix we had. Za clung to the front of his cage, watching the traffic and scenery go by, and laughing. Mike talked to him, I talked to him, he laughed.

 

Sunny and Zazu0452a
Sunny on the door, Zazu on the cage.

 

We got home and I put Zazu on a play stand while we set up his cage. I hated that cage and my first goal was to get a better one for him as soon as possible. But for the time being, he was used to it. I sat by Za and talked to him, and eventually asked him to step up. He bit me. Mike came in to see what I was yowling about, and picked up Zazu. It was love at first sight. Za became Mike’s bird and sat happily on his shoulder. If I approached, Zazu would viciously waggle side to side and indicate by gaping beak just what he wanted to do to me. Such an ingrate.

Six months later I ran my first Bird Mart and after an exhausting morning, passed by Free Flight’s booth. A sweet sun conure at their table stepped up and began “feeding” my thumb. Enchantment flowed through me. A quick discussion with Mike and I went back to claim Sunny, a ten-year-old female. She sat with me like she had always been my bird. People could not believe she had just met me that day.

 

Sunny snuggles
The Sunshine of my life

 

At home, she and Zazu got along pretty well, so we were quite relieved to have them together. I hoped Sunny might calm down Za. Alas, as with all my ideas about the boy, that never happened.

For a few years, Sunny and Zazu were the largest parrots in my flock. Then we had a chance to adopt two African greys that were special needs birds. There wasn’t the slightest doubt in my mind, or Mike’s, that these birds belonged with us. The same situation that allowed us to take in Io and Bo Dangles allowed a friend to adopt a pair of sun conures. She hoped to breed them, but after a couple years of no such luck, she asked if I wanted them. What’s two more sun conures? A little noisy, sure, but George and Gracie came to live with us without hesitation.

I’ve told the story of how my friend who matched me up with Maynard passed away within a year of that event. His roommate couldn’t afford to live in his apartment alone and chose to become homeless, as long as I would take in his conures. He had a sun conure, Mookie, and an orange-front conure, Sunny. It’s been several years now and he’s not been able to take back the parrots who love him.

There we were, five sun conures and happy as can be. Except it was very noisy and I thought maybe I should be thinking about down-sizing. I asked a dear friend if she wanted to adopt George and Gracie, because while Gracie was kind of bitey, George seemed to want to be a one-person bird. She took them in and loved them. Sadly Gracie passed away before long, but George became a very sweet companion bird.

 

Dani
Dani orange front

 

Three sun conures turned to two when Mookie, whose age I didn’t know, had a stroke. While he seemed to be doing well in spite of that, a couple months after that he passed away. His buddy Sunny became a pair with our orange-front, Dani, and they are carrying on very well.

 

Andy and his conures
Mookie’s last visit with “Dad”.

 

 

Two sun conures until Zazu plummeted from his perch and never got up again. He didn’t show any signs of illness or trouble, so his death hit me very hard. He may never have liked me, but I always loved him. As I wrote in a previous blog, the silver lining was that I had my Sunny back. She came willingly out of the cage and sat on my shoulder. She took treats from me every day. She preened my hair and slept in my shirt.

One sun conure turned to zero last week when Sunspot (her nickname so we could tell her apart from Sunny the orange-front) went into her sleep tent and quietly passed away. Since she was five years older than Zazu, I did expect it. Even now, however, I tear up when thinking about her. Ironically I am running another bird mart after many years of not jumping into it.

Zazu on Mike's shoulder

Zero Sun Conures. That is the condition I expect to prevail as we are downsizing in light of a big move in a few years. There’s no replacing those bright, happy faces in any event. I’m grateful for the time I had with each one, and grateful that each went easily, without stress or long illness. It’s definitely a blessing.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.

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