It is very difficult to write, but as some of you may have read in a previous post, our cockatiel passed away on New Year’s Eve. She dive-bombed a closing door. There was no party, no hubbub, nor anything out of the ordinary. Mishka the cockatiel simply made a bad decision.
It has been a terrible shock to everyone – to me 3,600 miles away and not sure how to process this, and to my partner, who has been left with the aftershock of losing a pet. I used to say Mishka was a little brain-damaged (possible from rough handling from the pet shop where we got her), and I still think this was true.
There were many times when she did weird, or ill-timed things.
I’ve been met by many different responses when I tear up a bit when telling people. Some have been surprised that I grieve for a pet bird, especially a cockatiel. I don’t try and justify it. More still have been understanding and expressed their sorrow, for Mishka touched many lives.
Everyone expresses grief differently, and I can’t tell anyone how to do this, but I want other owners to know it’s okay to feel sorrow for their pets. These creatures are truly more than simple pets. They’re constant companions. They’re demanding, needy, and beautiful, and their absence is sorely felt. Cockatiel or macaw, this holds true.
I write about the accident in part to come to terms with this. It’s part of my own style of grieving – makes it real. And I also come forward because it’s true that these things just happen, even in dedicated, loving, careful homes.
Mishka left a final lesson with me: teach your bird to stay in one place. Station training can save lives. If you teach your bird no other skill, make it stationing, so that you can put it in one place and trust that it will stay there. Don’t get too comfortable with your pet being out.
Our companion parrots touch our lives in very powerful ways.
Sarah Stull is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a photographer, violist, and violinist who has plans of opening her own avian sanctuary on the east coast of America.