Sunday, November 20, 2005

And then there was one

For the second Sunday in a row I woke up only to learn about a death. This death was much closer to me than Eddie Guerrero; this was my pet Green Cheek Conure Jayne. When I checked on the birds this morning I found her at the bottom of the cage dead. Based on how she was lying, I believe she got cage fright during the middle of the night, and when spooked fell to the bottom of the cage where she got part of her beak stuck on the grating. It looked at if she was struggling and either passed away by breaking her neck, or of a heart attack due to panic which is common in birds who go through intense trauma. Once I got her free from the bottom of the cage, and examined her body, I found no evidence of a fight between her and Geoff, my other Green Cheek Conure, and have decided it was not the result of “bird foul play.” Death from cage fright is a common occurrence for tropical birds, and not anything you can really prevent.

I’ve had Jayne for about a year and a half. She was a good bird, well behaved, and nice. Jayne was never one to be cuddled much, she didn’t like to be scratched or handled as much as Geoff. She was always all too eager to come out of her cage though. Jayne was fearless, and not scared of anything, even our dog. I’m not sure if she ever learned how to talk like Geoff has, although I think I’ve heard her say a few things, most likely imitating Geoff imitating me, as opposed to actually saying what I said.

Jayne was never much of a chewer, and she didn’t partake in playing with bell toys or chew toys in her cage like Geoff did. Instead, Jayne was a dancer, and boy could she dance. Any time I put on music, or just hummed along, she would start bobbing her head to the rhythm. It was truly a sight to behold.

After checking on Geoff, to make sure there wasn’t something I was overlooking, I took him and Jayne’s body downstairs. I placed Geoff on a chair that could overlook the front window, and went and wrapped Jayne’s body in some paper towels. I then went outside and buried Jayne in front of our main window so Geoff could watch.

Bebe and I were upset this morning. I’m not sure how birds deal with death. I know dogs and cats understand loss, as many dogs and cats die soon after their partner. Tropical birds, having around the same level of intelligence as cats and dogs, some seven to eight times higher, probably feel much the same way. Geoff was in the cage with Jayne as she lied dead most of the night and part of the morning. I’m sure he is aware of what happened, or that she is no longer alive. A few times this morning I could hear Geoff making the sound he and Jayne used to whenever I would separate them.

I will have to pay extra special attention to Geoff over the next few days to make sure that something bad doesn’t befall him too. I never thought losing a bird would be this sad, I greatly underestimated the feeling. I feel like crap this morning, absolute crap. I feel like there is something that I should have been able to do, something that I was overlooking. I get angry, blame myself, blame that stupid cage, blame the pet store they let me buy her.

I know it’s not my fault though, it’s not anyone’s fault. Things like that happen. These birds were not intended to be kept like pets like dogs and cats. Dogs and cats picked humans as much as we picked them in nature. Our lives just sort of blend well together, especially when you look at the historical theories on how the first cats and dogs became domesticated, it’s as if dogs and cats were meant to be with humans. Birds are another story altogether. It wasn’t the same bonding like it was with dogs and cats. Birds didn’t pick us, we picked them. Maybe it’s because we want to fly, want to be able to escape it all. Maybe it’s because of their beautiful colors, maybe because of their songs, their feather, all of it. But it’s not the same, not the same as other animals.

Birds were meant to be in the trees, meant to be in the sky, meant to be places other than with people. I can never return Geoff to the wild, back to the forests of Uruguay and Paraguay where he is native. I may never even make it to South America. Instead, I have to make sure that I give him everything he was supposed to get when God, a higher power, nature, or whatever dictated to him when his species came to be.

I loved Jayne and will miss her dearly. It won’t be the same upstairs without her and Geoff screaming along anymore.

Jayne passed away today, she was two years old.



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