My blue parakeet died today. Bluebelle lived his whole life in a cage despite my attempts to lure him out and into the world of a screened-in porch. His first three years with me were spent in a large house on 8th Avenue in a double-windowed corner. He had a purple parakeet girl-buddy, Lila, who died when a housemate opened a window to let fresh air in, but didn't know about caged birds and breezes. So, Bluebelle outlived Lila and moved with me to a cabin in the woods, and, once I bought Pele, a yellow parakeet, they spent two years on a former porch, with lots of bright windows. Soon after, I moved the five foot tall cage in the back of a truck ten miles to our next destination, a screened-in back porch in Sopchoppy, a sleepy town on a tannic, winding river of the same name. There, Pele learned to enter and exit the cage as she wanted. She was such a clever bird. So, I encouraged her to fly about the porch, and bought little birdhouses for each corner of the porch. They both lived through several strong winters in Sopchoppy. I moved them inside, in a smaller cage, when the temperature dropped to below 30 degrees. They hated those few months of cold winter. And, in Spring, Pele would lead Bluebelle when they were moved back, flying around and celebrating the space to flap their wings. Pele often took to nest-building and chewing on wood rafters. She was curious, and Bluebelle would follow her and check out whatever she unraveled.
Then, I moved back to town and both Bluebelle and Pele enjoyed a larger front porch, but both began to be less interested in leaving the cage. Pele died after an egg she was trying to lay got stuck, and I couldn't figure out how to help her without breaking the egg. This death really upset me because I felt like I didn't do enough. That was six months ago, and Bluebelle had not been the same.
For the last two months, I went back and forth about whether I should buy Bluebelle a friend. I had the suspicion that Bluebelle was tired, and that I might buy a young parakeet that would annoy my old guy. So I didn't.
This Sunday, Bluebelle was sitting on the edge of his water bowl, looking spaced out. When I reached in, he didn't fly away, so I knew something was wrong. I took him out and held him the whole day, working on the computer with him on my chest or in my hand until, finally, he gave up his ghost.
It was this last day that was the first day I had ever held Bluebelle. I guess it was his parting gift to me.