Things A Little Bird Once Told Me

Old man to the right. RIP little Auggie 1994-2015

We lost a dear friend this weekend. Our beloved pet cockatiel Auggie passed away last Thursday night, apparently from natural causes.

As is the way with small birds there wasn’t much to warn us this was coming. He was an old man in cockatiel terms. For 21 years he graced our family with his presence across 4 states and in 3 households, but aside from being a bit more fragile than in his youth, he seemed in good health right up till the end. The only hint I can recall now is that he lost his grip from the perch a few times in the past few weeks leading up to this. Just last weekend my in-laws were in town, and Aug always got excited to see them, especially my father in law. He was all fluff and contentment.

posing with toddler
3yr old’s reaction, “The clock stopped in his belly.” We think she’s referring to the crocodile from Peter Pan.

Many people don’t get how much personality small birds can have. Aug was the epitome of that. Everyone who met him was amazed at his character. For example, we think he was hand-raised with a sock puppet as a baby. He LOVED socks, and consequently feet, and anything else made of fabric draped over a hand or foot. Show him one and he’d instantly burst into song. He used to climb down our legs and bite our toes to make them wiggle. Note: I didn’t say he was “sane” only that he had personality. Folding laundry was a favorite hobby.

People often joke about pets thinking they’re people, but Aug exemplified that too. You could say he never “fit in” with other birds. For the past 11 years we’ve usually been host to 3 ‘tiels at a time. Through all of them and the several before back at the parent’s old homestead, Aug stood out as a “people bird”. He was never very popular with the girl birds, but he’d talk up a storm with anyone who wanted to chat. Literally at the snap of your fingers you’d be host to a chorus of, “Hey! What? Whatcha doin?” and oddly “LaQuinta!” a word he picked up after a cross-country journey where we stayed at the hotel chain a lot. (They’re pretty well-known to be pet friendly.)

one of our “feathered children” before we had the human one

More than with anyone else in recent memory he was my wife’s bird. Save for the occasional visit by in-laws, he wanted nothing more than to be with her. Most of the time I was chopped liver to the little guy. Only after she was away for at least 3 days would he even approach me willingly. Even then it was mostly the equivalent of, “Shake your toes B!@7c#.” After which he’d, I think, start inviting my feet to join him at a LaQuinta.

Despite that, he and I got along just fine, and his antics rarely *seriously* annoyed. I hope when my clock stops to have given at least as many smiles as this little bird did.

Everyone who knew him will miss him. Everyone we’ve told of his passing says he had a good long life. We tried to be a good home for him, and I hope we succeeded.

Farewell little guy. You never failed to bring us smiles. Your memory will continue to make us laugh for years to come.

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