You give us those nice bright colorsShe was named for the song. It would have been 23 years next Monday since the day she came home and joined our family. It's not quite 24 hours since she left us.
You give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah!
- Paul Simon
Harlan shows up more in my photos here because he's a bit more gregarious, but within our household Kodachrome has always been the Big Bird. I was so happy when we brought Harlan home last year and she was friendly toward him from the start. Not sharing-a-perch friendly, but good buds. It had taken her well over a decade to warm up to our macaw, Amelia. But when we lost Amelia in 2010, Kodachrome grieved along with me.
We didn't really know what we were doing when we got her, so we'd leave her cage open during the day when we went to work. The thing is, she was such a homebody that she never wandered away. (And if you were meeting her here for the first time, she'd probably greet you with her big stomping bird act to let you know that this was HER space.)
She became even more of a homebody in her late teens when she decided she'd waited long enough for Mr. Right and started laying eggs on her own. She'd build a nest under the papers of the cage and defend it with all her might.
Nesting took a big toll on her physically, because she took it so seriously. She would not go up to get food - we (her mate-surrogates) had to bring food to her, and she'd only get up a few times a day to poop and have a drink of water. We finally stopped putting paper in the cage to try to discourage nesting, but once or twice a year she'd start chewing her food to a powder to make nesting material, and brood wooden beads and other chewtoys until she'd pop out her own egg(s).
She was a suspicious little creature and didn't like a lot of things - brooms, mops and anything else with a long handle; squirrels, deer, jays and falling leaves; cats and some dogs. (The reservoir across the street is a popular dog walking area, and she'd screech about off-leash dogs but never about those attached to their humans. I have no idea how she figured that one out.) There were also some things she really liked, like peanut butter, though she was ambivalent about peanuts.
She really loved popcorn. It was part of the Friday night ritual at our cabin - garlic butter and parmesan for us, and a separate batch of plain popcorn for the birds. It was as much a toy (crunch it apart!!) as a food, which was a big part of the appeal.
Above all, she loved her people. I was okay, but hubby was her true love. She was never quite so happy as when she snuggled onto his shoulder or his chest while he was reading. When his beard got longest in the winter, she'd crawl under it for extra shelter. When it got shorn in the spring, she'd preen it.
We had a happy holiday season. The only upside of being unemployed is that I've been able to spend a lot more time around my feathered friends - they live in my studio/office room. Harlan has been learning Kodachrome language, and has gotten so good that sometimes I can't tell their voices apart. The two kept up a lively chatter all day.
Yesterday, something wasn't right when I went in to wake them. She'd made some funny colored poop on Wednesday (but was otherwise lively), and did it again Thursday morning. Worse, she seemed lethargic and sorta off-balance. She wanted to come over and snuggle into my bathrobe for warmth... and stayed for an hour. I called the bird doc when they opened and brought her over. It was some kind of internal bleeding - could be a tumor, an ulcer, any number of things. She'd need an x-ray and some blood tests to be sure. I gave her a kiss and left her for the treatment.
A few hours later, the vet called with bad news. While they were examining her in prep for the x-ray, she'd had a seizure and slipped away.
We picked her up a few minutes later, and drove to our cabin. Hubby built a redwood box, I drew a picture and wrote a few words on the lid. We wrapped her in her favorite towel, gave her one of her toys with a bell (in case she needs to register annoyance with something) and a handful of her favorite treats. She's next to Amelia, her housemate of 18 years, among the redwoods they'd watched for squirrels for so long. All the world's just a bit less of a sunny day today.
Beautiful til the end.