Budgie love: I did not expect such a strong connection with such a small bird

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Illustration by Chelsea O’Byrne

I’m in the kitchen, washing my hands in the sink, when suddenly the parakeet comes flying in from the living room and lands on my wrist. He eagerly stretches his neck to drink the water, happily flapping his wings in the shower.

“Huh,” I think, “he’s never done that before. I turn around quickly to tell Vladi everything, but of course he’s not there. The sobering reality is sinking once more. My 56 year old husband passed away a few months ago.

Dad has always been the bird whisperer in the family. I don’t know if it was the mustache, the prominent nose, or the deep voice but they all turned to him, granting him special favors the rest of us didn’t. It was a super power since there is a long line of parakeets in the Tiosavljevic family.

Bubi is a beautiful green and yellow male parakeet. A fragile little bundle of feathers, song and attitude.

Its name comes from the German affection for “little boy” and is pronounced “boobie”, which often leads to smirks from those who don’t speak German. But I don’t care, and that’s why this Bubi is our fifth “Bubi”.

Our love affair with parakeets began in the early 1970s when we lived in a condo with our two young children. “Dogs are not allowed” was the policy, but our children were begging for a pet. We had to choose between a fish or a bird. We chose the little social parakeet. We actually took two home – Kiki for our daughter, Ricky for our son.

Birds have become a part of family life, hopping on their pencils when the kids are coloring, sitting on Dad’s shoulder when he takes a nap in his chair, following us around singing all the time.

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After about three years, Kiki became ill, not eating and simply sitting silently under our spider plant. It was touching to see Ricky snuggle up to her, chirping encouragement. Sadly, Kiki didn’t recover and soon after Ricky’s death, most likely from a broken heart. It also broke our hearts. We never imagined that the bond with a little bird would be so strong and that its death would cause us so much pain. We weren’t ready to go through it again.

It wasn’t until the kids left the house and Vladi and I retired that we noticed how quiet our condo had become.

We decided to have another parakeet – a young, pale blue male we named Bubi.

He was a shy little bird at first. Although we left the door to his cage open, he did not dare to come out. Vladi got to work coaxing Bubi to jump on his finger as he carried him out of the cage. Eventually he would fly away.

But most surprisingly, he could speak! With a strong Slavic accent, nothing less, imitating my husband, repeating “Pirrty birdie” over and over again.

We spent four wonderful years with Bubi n ° 1. One day, however, our flight expert missed a bar on his front perch. The next day, we detected a slight lameness in his right leg, which got worse. Alarmed, we took Bubi to the vet. An x-ray and blood samples showed inflammation of the kidneys. The vet then asked us if Bubi had ever laid an egg. An egg? We were speechless. It meant that our little Bubi was a woman. Go figure it out.

Bubi never regained his strength and couldn’t use his leg. And yet, his desire to be close to us was still strong. She couldn’t land on top of us without falling on her stomach and toppling over. It pained us to see her like that.

On a gray winter day, a most loving, loving and trusting relationship between two humans and a little bird came to an end. Our Bubi is dead.

Bubi # 2 was also pale blue but had a lot more wit.

He was a powerful thief. He loved to bite and chew. His cuttlefish bone was cut in a day. But he especially liked to peck our leather sofas. The blankets did not deter him. Instead, he went under the covers and hid there for hours without a word. We dared not sit down for fear of crushing it.

Other than those oddities, he did all the normal things with the parakeets, like eating, tweeting, hanging out with daddy. Bubi # 2 has also only been with us for four years.

Now we have realized that parakeets are fragile birds with a short lifespan. In fact, Bubi # 3, another pale blue bird, was sick from the start and lived for less than two years.

But we weren’t discouraged, and soon after Bubi # 4 arrived. Our granddaughter chose this beautiful little bird – yellow with a green heart-shaped pattern on the chest.

Bubi # 4 was loving, gentle, and intelligent. She followed us from room to room. She liked to jump on the edge of daddy’s glasses or on the mirror when he was shaving. She sat patiently on the edge of her iPad when Vladi was reading or on her shoulder when he was watching television.

Four happy years have passed, but one day we noticed that Bubi was not herself. Dad took her on his chest, covered her with his hand to keep her warm, and held her there all day. At the end of the day, she looked better and was eating again. A month later, she was breathing heavily and losing breast feathers. One morning we found our sweet bird dead at the bottom of its cage.

Dad was so upset to lose his Bubi that he wanted another bird right away.

Bubi n ° 5 was daddy’s bird, his pride and joy in his old age. Bubi was also protective of dad. When the two “smooched” and I tried to touch Vladi, Bubi bit me.

When Vladi died, Bubi was no longer himself and remained in his cage for a few days. He focused on my son, sitting up on his chest and nibbling his mustache instead.

Now, with only the two of us in the house, Bubi has taken to protecting me. He is affectionate and affectionate and I am lucky to have him.

But Bubi is already three years old and I dread the day when I have to say goodbye to him. I am hopeful, however. I’ve read that parakeets can live up to eight years.

“Wouldn’t that be wonderful, Bubi?” I ask him.

Helga Tiosavljevic lives in Toronto.

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