I talk about death a lot in my articles. And it happens frequently in my life. Most recently, I lost Arnica, an eclectus parrot. But this time, I don’t want to tell you how he died. I want to tell you how he lived, at least the parts I know about.
My mom adopted Arnica when he was about ten years old, and I was still a fetus. He was still a young bird at this point.
My first memory of Arnica was being about four and feeding him peanuts from the outside of his cage. He loved to take treats from me, and he would walk on the floor to get to my level. My mom had all of her birds in a large, walk-in aviary, and each enclosure was big enough to walk inside easily. However, I was afraid of his mate Angelica, who only loved my mom, so I did not often go inside.
For reference, eclectus parrots are a little over a foot in height, with a big-ole-beak, particularly to a small child. They could easily bite off a pinkie if they had the notion.
Arnica was also a stupidly smart bird. The reason his cage and the aviary itself had locks was because he could open both. I used to catch him outside the cage sometimes and have to call mom to put him back in. “Bird-brain” is a popular term, but I promise you that birds are some of the most intelligent creatures. Except with mirrors, because then they think that it’s another bird.
Eventually, Angelica died, and Arnica had a stroke when I was about 14 years old. This did not kill him, but he was never able to walk in the same way again and had to be moved inside.
I attempted to rehabilitate him, and while he got much better, he became a mean old man. He bit me once and liked to yell at me. He was most fond of screaming when I swept the room or attempted to clean his or the guinea pig’s cage.
Though sometimes he just yelled for fun, as birds are wont to do. There have been numerous occasions where he, or the African Gray, Roman, will make a noise, and my mom and I won’t notice, but the people we have over will.
Speaking of noises, Arnica could talk just a little bit. He would imitate my mom’s voice the most, and if I understood him correctly, he would say, “Hey, what’s up.” He and Roman also liked to whistle.
He did not like me and I think he went out of his way to scare me when my mom would let him out of the cage. Inside the cage, he would pretend to bite me when I walked past.
I have never done anything to him besides hand feed him and pet him when he was sick.
Despite all of that, I was still able to hand feed him when he was in the cage, and a few days before he died, I fed him bell pepper, which he seemed to enjoy. He was 31 years old, which is old age for an eclectus.
I will miss him. He was a beautiful bird with bright green plumage and red and blue under feathers. I will miss talking softly to him to attempt to calm him. I will even miss cowering on the couch while he strutted around the living room.
He was a mean old man, but I loved him. He has always been there, and now it seems that there is a hole in my life. I hate seeing his empty cage, but I know he is flying happily in bird heaven with his mate.