Every now and again you hear a story about a bird that sticks in your mind and just doesn’t go away. It makes you stop for a moment and re-look at what you do with your own birds. This is one of those stories.
I received an email from a Birdtricks.com follower that many of you may know as a regular poster to the Facebook page. Samantha was writing to me about her little Green Cheek Conure named Phoenix.
Phoenix was one of those birds that gets right under your skin and forces you to adore him. He was Samantha’s best friend and constant companion.
His training perch was kept on the patio near where Samantha and her husband had their cuppas, but Phoenix preferred “his” chair. With the typical parrot understanding of everything must be “his”, he’d be desperate to get into their cups. As a result they had to start drinking from travel mugs to keep him out (think mug with lid).
Samantha kept his training treats and clicker handy and they would have several training sessions a day. At times Phoenix wanted the treat but didn’t want to train so he would jump onto the table and sit on the jar of treats, tapping the lid. Samantha would get him to step up and put him on the perch – then there would be a few minutes of him not waiting till she got the clicker and treat ready. Instead he would go back to the treat jar to “help”.
Naturally, when Samantha was in bed sick. Phoenix was in there with her, happily playing and keeping her company. She had been in bed, with him sitting on her chest enjoying undivided attention and scratches when her husband came in (he had been out fishing).
Phoenix was so excited to see Samantha’s husband that he went running to meet him. It was a joyous “Daddy’s home!!!” run. Unfortunately Samantha’s husband didn’t see Phoenix and accidentally sat on him. It happened in seconds. Phoenix was killed. In Samantha’s words: “We are both so devastated, it was a stupid accident. Normally we are so careful when he is out but it all happened too quick.”
I know I froze in horror when I read what had happened as I could imagine it so readily in my own home with my own birds. Accidents happen very easily and I thought it worth sharing the story as sometimes hearing about these sorts of tragedies can serve as a reminder. The reminder might even prevent an accident somewhere else in the future.
I know it has made me more vigilant when my birds are out and about. It’s fine if I know they’re there but if anyone else is around – I now make doubly sure they know that I have a bird out and to be careful accordingly. I’m also more wary when I first enter a room just in case someone else in the house has a bird out, or just in case a bird has escaped (a common problem when you live with several feathered Houdinis).
As Samantha said in her email to me: “He was a very friendly, happy and inquisitive bird that adored me (and I him). Phoenix always had to be close and I was very vigilant on his whereabouts so nothing would happen to him, which makes what did happen all the more heartbreaking. I never thought it would happen as we were so careful but then accidents only take a second and can happen to anyone, no matter how vigilant you are.”
Phoenix has left a legacy behind him. What Samantha and her husband have learned about birds in his time with them will be knowledge they use to improve the lives of their two remaining rescue birds. Bella (a Rainbow Lorikeet) and Zoey a Major Mitchell will both benefit from that knowledge. They will not forget Phoenix. I know Samantha and her husband will read this post, so please join with me in sharing condolences in the comments section.
I think sometimes it helps to know there are others out there who understand that these personalities are never “just a bird”. They are all important and special and they mark us for life. In Samantha’s words:
“I can’t stop the tears at the moment. He was a green cheek conure, small in size but it is amazing how big a hole he has left in my heart.”
Mel Vincent works as an animal rehabilitator out of Australia.