Goodbye Sweet Bird

My little parakeet, Jasmine. flew away on Sunday. She was fully flighted and never locked up, which, I suppose, makes it my fault that she was able to fly out over our heads when we opened the door coming home. It was devastating. 

I tried to run after her, but my legs were like jelly and she almost instantly flew over other houses, where I could not follow. It was lightly drizzling. The next couple days it rained harder off and on, and it still makes me sick to think of my poor birdie out in the cold and wet. I know just how that would look, because I’ve watched her emerge from her bath, triumphant but shivering. The feathers on her tummy turn a brownish grey that seems totally unrelated to their usual brilliant blue. 

I have no hope of ever seeing her again, and I feel immensely guilty that I allowed this to happen. 

Let me take some time to memorialize my little bird right here.

The first thing she did when we brought her home was to fly straight into my dog’s face. No hesitation whatsoever. I think that is when she established dominance, because the dog consistently ran away from her. 

When her wings were still clipped, she loved to explore the floor and under the table, learning her surroundings. Once she could fly, she took to perching on the windowsill, way above our heads. But much of the time, she seemed content to sit, eat or chew on, in or around her open cage. I had elaborate sticks and toys and coconut shells set up for her both inside and outside.

 There was a period when my main interaction with her was to let her perch on my nose and groom my eyelashes/bite my eyelids. It wasn’t exactly pleasant, but I was so thrilled to have her attention that I just took it.

Sometimes, I was allowed to pet her head and she would close her eyes, cuddling up to my finger. I miss her so much!

More recently, I’d discovered her favorite food: grassy weed seeds. I was teaching her to fly too me and land on my hand to eat. It was going really well. She was such a precious, tiny, sassy little creature. 

Which makes me feel all the guiltier for getting a new bird, yesterday. My husband also feels I hurried into it.

What happened is this: I had told my mother that I was thinking of getting a handfed baby bird someday in the future. You have to wait a while to get a handfed baby. She called a place and they told her that they had just-now-old-enough-for-purchase baby parakeets (not handfed) available that very day. Before I knew it, I was on my way to get one. 

I intended to get green or yellow. One that wouldn’t look too much like my lost bird. Instead, I found myself drawn to a bird that looked a bit like my old girl, except ghostly pale. 

My initial impulse was to name the new bird Rain, but I’m not getting a lot of support for that name from my family. I’m undecided about whether or not that matters.

I still feel sad about my lost bird. I dreamed that she came home last night, only to wake to disappointment. And I feel weird that I ….replaced her…. so soon. Of course, you can’t really replace a living being. 

I just felt this desperate guilt, and thought that if I could take excellent care of a new bird, I would somehow be redeemed for my mistakes with the old one. It feels bad that my husband didn’t approve of my action. That added to the weight of my misery. At least before I got the new bird, he felt sorry that I was hurting. But when I got the new bird, he compared me to a widow getting remarried a week after her husband’s death. That hurt, especially since he’s my husband. 

Now he seems to have accepted what I did, and is mostly concerned for the bird. He denies it when I ask, but the implication of his concern is that he feels my bird left because of something I did wrong. Not cleaning the cage enough, not figuring out her favorite food soon enough. Something. 

But this new bird comes from a store that takes birds seriously, and I can call them whenever I am concerned about my bird. I called them this morning because my bird was silent, barely moving, neither eating nor drinking, and had off-colored, liquidy stool (and a messy poop chute). S/he is doing better now, don’t worry.

Since new bird was not handfed, I have to start from square one in taming him/her. Right now, I’m still terrifying and unknown to the poor wee thing. The instructions the bird people gave me say I must allow my bird to get accustomed to his/her surroundings before trying to interact or finger train. It’s hard to wait when the bird looks so alone in the huge new cage I got, but it helps no one if I make the first days more traumatic than they need to be. I stay nearby though. 

I will work on my relationship with this new bird as soon as I can, instead of allowing it to take a year to get of the ground, as I did with Jasmine. This bird will be loved and know it.

If you’re the sort to pray, consider sparing a word for my bird. I’ve made up stories for myself in which she is ok, but I find my own imaginings hard to believe. I just wish there was something I could do.

Thanks for reading all that. I’m sure it sounds incredibly trivial to anyone who has lost a person dear to them, but to me, the grief is real. 

Oh, and it’s my birthday tomorrow (Christmas Eve), so I need to try and look happy in front of my family for that and the holiday. 


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