Two birds



My sweet Alexandrine Parakeet Caesar died tonight after a sudden illness. She was a beautiful parrot, often a pain in the ass, but I loved her so much these past 8 years.

She suddenly showed signs of extreme illness yesterday afternoon. Today, the vet found nothing wrong except for extreme anemia of an unknown origin. She was given fluids along with iron and B vitamins, and put on oxygen all day long.

This evening, I was driving to pick her up to bring her home for the night. Suddenly, on the side of the road I saw a struggling animal. It was a mallard duck who had just been hit by a car. He was upside down and his feet were waiving frantically as he struggled. I quickly turned around, thinking, “I’m driving straight to the vet anyway—a vet that often takes care of injured wildlife – and I will be there in 5 minutes.” I arrived, and immediately at my shoulder, was a small, gentle man who told me his name was Chico. He too, had come to help the bird, after seeing somebody hit it and then drive off. He said he lived nearby and that basically people suck because they treat animals like they are disposable—and that is why he and his wife have 10 dogs. As we bent over the bird, we quickly realized that he was already gone, his neck laid open with a deep gash. We talked for a little while. I thanked him and said there was hope if people like us would stop to help this bird. He wondered what to do. I said I could take the body on with me, but then he decided, no, he would bury it in his yard. I gave him the towel I had brought for Caesar, and he walked off with the body of that once graceful bird.

Late Night Snack

Late Night Snack

I arrived at the vet a few minutes later, thinking about Chico and that duck. I washed my hands of potential blood and germs, as I wouldn’t want to pass anything on to my already very sick bird. They told me Caesar had begun hiding in the back of the cage, burying her head, and she would crawl back there with all the strength she had left. I could tell from what the vet tech did say and didn’t say, that she thought she was dying. And I knew, because the vet, who I’ve known for years, had let me take her home—not insisting she stay on oxygen overnight. He said she hadn’t moved all day. I brought her home, set up her cat carrier with a warm bean bag and turned the space heater on in the bathroom again. I tried to bring her out to say goodbye, but she struggled, and went immediately back to the corner.

Then I went to the studio for a few hours. She died while I was driving home, shortly after my husband had last checked on her. I hope so much that she felt immediately free, that there is somewhere she can fly with other birds and scream and call to her heart’s content. I failed her badly in so many ways—I hope too, that she can forgive me.

Two birds, two deaths, one day. A reason to grieve, and a reason to hope.

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