Siva and Beignu were each
important to me in different ways.
They are gone now, but
They are the first and second parrots at
|Siva was a male lutino cockatiel - my
first parrot. He came to me from a local "birds-only" pet store called
"Just For The Birds". It's interesting to me to look back on where I
bought him, because Jesse, our newest "baby girl" was bred by the man who
happened to own that store! So I feel that I've come full-circle.
Siva as a baby - stepping up for the first
||Siva was intelligent, thoughtful, patient, and so
many other things that you can only experience if you have a close
relationship with a parrot. He was fairly independent (for a
cockatiel) and although he preferred to be in the same room with me, he
didn't necessarily demand constant attention. He was just happy to "be
He would sample anything he saw me eat - but
his favorite was
Pasta. As a matter of fact, you couldn't say the words "pasta" or
"spaghetti" in his presence. If he heard you say the word, he would
scream until you gave him some!
| He was a very perceptive and a pretty good judge
of character. There were very few people that he met and didn't like -
but I invariably found that if Siva didn't like them, I ended up not being
around them much. This was not because I allowed Siva to dictate my
social life - but because the few people he didn't care for had something in
their personality which eventually drove me away.
He was a pretty talented talker. I will never
forget the day he came out to "visit" with a contractor who was giving me an
estimate for home repairs. Siva stepped up onto the man's hand and
proceeded to trot up his arm saying "Whacha doin' big boy?"
sing a fair bit of the "Aria" from Madama Butterfly, and was always fond of
singing along to any tune he heard, especially if was being sung by a woman.
An enthusiastic bather - the only thing he loved more than a good shower was
the blow dryer.
Siva would sit on Stephen's shoulders for hours if allowed.
When Stephen visited me in Ohio for the first time
(2001), I was grateful to see that he and Siva hit it off immediately.
Siva, who was fairly old by then, accepted Stephen immediately - and applied
all the known cockatiel charm he could to get Stephen to
like him. And when a cockatiel wants to charm you - you're a "goner".
| He was 18 years old - and I knew that the
inevitable was coming. He'd started having trouble seeing (he bumped
into things if the room wasn't well lit) and seemed to feel the cold more
(he was more inclined to sit on me as he got older).
I just hoped that I'd be there when it did.
And I was.
Siva and I would take "cat naps" in the
chair (aka: Bird Snuggling Chair). This photo taken shortly before
One Sunday evening I thought I heard something coming
from "his room" (the dining room). I went and found him sitting
awkwardly on the bottom of the cage. One glance and I knew what was
coming. He stepped up on my finger and I held him on my chest for the
next hour or so. For the first time in his life, he let me stroke his
back. I watched and felt his little body weaken, and then with a tiny
shudder, he laid his head down and I knew he was gone.|
When someone you love leaves you, it's hard.
Siva was not a pet. For 18 years he was my
What surprised me when he died was the reaction of the
other birds. There were 2 canaries housed in the dining room near his
cage. When Siva died, you could just tell that they knew.
For two weeks, the male canary cried - it nearly drove me crazy.
Years later, I still grieve for Siva. I suppose
I always will. If you have never loved an animal then
no explanation is possible. If you have loved an animal - really loved
them - none is
This is the only clear photo I have of Beignu.
|One month after Siva's death, I found that I just
couldn't handle the silence. I wanted to honor Siva's memory by
waiting a while before getting another bird, but four weeks went by and my
I wanted another lutino - like Siva - or at least an
unusually colored 'tiel. I called and drove all over the county
looking for the right bird - and finally found Beignu at a local pet store
(a nationwide petstore chain). I bought him and took him for a vet check
right away. The "new bird" checkup revealed a small amount of bacteria
in his throat, but nothing that my vet or I were particularly worried about.
But then, it happened. About two weeks after
adopting him, I got up one Friday morning and found Beignu on the bottom of
his cage - clearly not feeling well. I phoned the vet's office as soon
as they opened that day and arranged to take him in immediately (they were
great - said "bring him now - we'll look at him right away"). But when
I went to get Beignu, he was already gone. A necropsy performed by the
vet that day told me that the cause was "mega bacteria" - something I'd not
even heard of until then.
|In his short life and death, Beignu
taught me two important lessons. The first is the importance of
necropsy. I badly wanted another parrot, but without knowing what
caused Beignu's death, it would have been foolish (even cruel) to risk another life.
Armed with what the veterinarian was able to tell me, I could appropriately sterilize Beignu's cage and prevent infecting other birds.
The other important lesson came as a result of my
conversation with the manager of the pet store Beignu came from. I
called them to alert them to the possibility that an
infection was making it's way through their birds. The manager of the
store was, quite frankly, ignorant of what I was trying to say and just not
interested. In fairness, not all pet stores are careless, ignorant, or
neglectful. I am not prepared to condemn all on the basis of my
experience - but it has made me aware of the general problem of the pet
trade - and that not all those who profit from the sale of animals are the
ethical people we would like them to be.