What Happened to the Parrot?

November 7, 2013

If you’ve read this blog for long, you know I have a pet parrot that is funny and super intelligent.  Well, I should say I *had* a pet parrot.  This morning I sent out a notice to the humor list,

“Sorry, no humor today.  I lost my pet parrot yesterday, and I just haven’t got the heart for it.”

So many people wrote and asked me, “What happened to the parrot?” that I decided it’d be simpler to type it out once, then send a link to people so they can read about if they want to.

African grey parrot

The Beginning of the End

A couple of weeks or so ago, our parrot started having seizures.  The first time it happened, she was on her back flopping around and I thought she’d got a toenail caught in the carpet or something.  I mean, it never occurred to me that the bird would be having a seizure for goodness sakes!

Well, when it happened again a few days later, I realized the problem.  But why all of a sudden is the bird having seizures?

My first thought was it was the new ionizer air filter I’d bought.  Birds have sensitive respiratory systems.  I did some research on using such air cleaners, but got mixed results.  Some people think they are bad for birds, others didn’t.

Trying To Fix Things

To be on the safe side, or so I thought, I put the ionizer in the basement, where the bird never goes.  For a while things seemed okay, but then one day she had another seizure.  I thought maybe it was because I’d had my hands full of laundry coming up from the basement that morning, and left the door open a few inches for a while.  Maybe some of the ionized air drifted upstairs?

So I turned it completely off, even though it was by the basement entry door, and as far away from the stairs as possible.  I didn’t want to chance it.

I also bought some calcium powder.  That was another potential problem I found in researching seizures in African Grey parrots… they don’t always metabolize calcium well, and end up having seizures.  She’s always had a cuttlebone in her cage, but never chewed on it, so I knew she wasn’t getting any calcium there.  So I baked birdie bread with calcium in it and fed that to the bird.

Once again things went along fine for a while, and I really thought the ionizer must have been the problem.

Things Got Worse

Unfortunately, over this past weekend, things got worse.  My poor parrot had two seizures in one day.  She’d have spasms, then sit there dazed a few seconds, then go on like nothing happened.

The Farmer’s comment to me was, “You’d better prepare yourself.  One of these days she’s going to have one and not come out it.”  A dire prophecy that came true all too soon.

Trying to Help The Parrot

First thing Monday morning I called the avian vet’s office, and took her in.  He examined her and said her heart and lungs sounded fine, and decided she had one of two things:

  1. Calcium deficiency
  2. Epilepsy

It seems that they’ve seen epilepsy in African Grey parrots now and then, and he said it was a hereditary thing.  I had to wonder, “But why now?”

He gave her a shot of calcium, and gave me a bottle of Vitamin A and Calcium drops to give the parrot, and said if that didn’t help within two weeks, we’d try putting her on a phenobarbital elixir.

Obviously, we never got the chance.

Then End Came Too Soon

Yesterday morning when I came in from chores I could hear the bird flopping around on the floor again.  I rushed to her and she was gasping for breath… and then just stopped breathing.

At first I thought she was just coming out of the seizure.  Well, that’s what I tried to tell myself, but I really knew with that last gasp she was gone.

I tried breathing into her lungs, hoping she’d start breathing again.  It didn’t work.

She was really gone.

The Aftermath

The next hour or so is best left unreported.  We’ll just say Jonathan came upstairs to find me sitting on the floor, holding my bird, rocking back and forth and crying.

African Grey Parrots are supposed to live 50 years or more.  I figured one day Jonathan would have her.

But now all we have is an empty cage and an empty heart.

We put her in a shoebox with her favorite toys and buried her.  Jonathan dug the grave, the third in a row. . . Neffie, Spot, and now Baby.  I feel like I’m living inside a bad country song, “I lost my dog, I lost my cat, I lost my bird. . .”


Losing a pet is always hard, but this bird was like a little person. She talked to me, held conversations with herself, made all kinds of funny noises, had a quirky personality, and was just so much company for me.

Depressing. Bummed out. All too mild to describe it. My heart wants my bird back. I want yesterday to not have happened. But my brain tells me it DID happen, and my beloved bird is gone.

The house is so quiet.
My heart hurts.

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