My bird Sunny is proud, sweet and strong. She is a brilliant yellow with rosey red cheeks. She is almost twenty years old, which is quite an accomplishment for a cockatiel. Her feathers are thick and rich. The yellow feathers hide skin. No doubt, dried and cracked from age and experience. She has a few scars from accidents and fights with her mate but I have never seen them. She lunges her head around her body to clean herself without looking. She picks an area and bobs her head letting her beak and tongue grab feathers at a base and she slides down each arching her neck. Until she reaches the tip where it will leave her mouth and fling back into its position. Once in awhile, a small feather will fall loose and float off.
She always faces forward, towards me in my chair or bed. I can sit and watch her watch nothing. She can smell the bunch aroma of fresh seeds as I uncap her feed. She gets around with her beak and swings her body from perch to perch along her gridded cage. Sh sits on her branch. bends over until she is upside-down and grabs the gilded bar. Then, her feet swing down to the lower perch. She knows where everything its.
She use to be terribly connected to her mate. On the occasions when we would take them both out of the cage, if they ever lost sight of each other, they would call out in turn to one another until they were reunited by site. They had chicks once. She was three. We moved them to a huge cage with an attached wood box where she could make a nest and lay her eggs. She had seven hatched eggs. She never laid again. I didn’t want to break them up but one-by-one they grew independent and wanted their own territory. So they were sold off or given to caring homes. She looked for each of them when they had gone.
Her mate is gone now, too. It must have been close to six years ago. He had been sick for almost a year. She was angry at him for not fighting harder for food. He lost so many feathers. His scars and dry skin shone through multiple bald spots. She got noisy, she hated seeing him weak and wanted to encourage him to get better. It looked like she encouraged him by goading. He would slouch and she would chirp then he would sit up tall with a little wobble. She called for him when we took him away. He had stopped moving no matter how she called. She would whistle for the next couple of days and wait for his reply.
I left her cage open. She swung down to eat. On her way back up, she climbed to the open door and paused where the bar would be. Her mouth twitched a few times to grab for the absent bar. Failing that, she backed up and started again from beside the doors opening. I reached in to hold her and my hand, though right in front of her, was a complete surprise. She gnarled and threw her beak but she didn’t bite. She never bit. Only tastes and rubbed. Even now in violent blind motions, she doesn’t bite. Still strong, still carrying on, I cannot tell you how long she has for this world but I doubt if it will be anytime soon.