Death In The Bird Room
The death of a loved one is hard to accept. Brady’s companion, Gracie, died during the night. I expected the tiny, green body sprawled on the cage floor this morning. I expected an upset Brady.
Note: Most of my flock are senior birds, well into their teens. Most cockatiels, parakeets, and doves live a life span of 16 to 21 years.
A bird wake is held in the flight cage, the departed rests on a shelf visible to the entire flock. After arranging the body, I leave the cage to allow the others to visit the corpse. The dead’s friends examine the body, talk to it, touch it with their beaks, trying to coax it to get up. Bird grieving is akin to our grieving, emotional and often intense. I learned to hold wakes after a male cockatiel passed on leaving a bewildered mate with no corpse to examine.
Years ago, we had a devoted cockatiel pair: Peeps and Silky. They were inseparable. Their affection for each other was obvious and touching; they were together well into their teens, never out of sight of each other, until the fateful day Silky developed an illness that led to his death. Unfortunately, Silky died at the vet’s clinic instead of at home with his mate. My mistake was not bringing the Silky’s body home for Peeps to touch once more.
Peeps was devastated. She cried for him for weeks on end. It was heartbreaking watching her flying around the room, calling him and not hearing or finding him. She was miserable, inconsolable, distraught. I did not know how to help her, but nature solved the problem.
Peeps was a widow, and the flock had unattached males who were interested in acquiring a mate. Peeps found herself overwhelmed by male attention, probably not initially welcome, but a distraction for her grief. Eventually, she accepted a new mate and her grieving ceased.
Thus the waking of my dead birds became a part of the cycle of life in the bird room. The ritual I follow is to leave the corpse for viewing for several hours, maybe the entire morning, and then I bury it in our yard, marking the place of internment with a large rock or a new plant.
I am sure you are wondering about Brady now that Gracie is gone. Brady and Gracie were the only two parakeets in the…