High Four Bird Training

Losing You

This page is dedicated to the piece that I wrote after I lost my baby boy Mikko.

My Menace - From Start to Finish!

Meeks – Our Journey


Eddie – The Beginning.


The ticking clock was the only sound in the room. My eyes scanned the empty cage in the bedroom, making me feel even weaker in will than before. My little bird Eddie had been gone since Christmas Eve, and the silence in my head was cliché deafening, it made my heart sink. I'd promised myself I'd not have another as I felt I'd be replacing her, but my willpower waned. I couldn't imagine life without another bird.

Eddie (pictured on my shoulder & on her own below) was a tiny little grey pied hen who I'd adopted from a pet shop in the promise I'd care for her overgrown claws and misshapen beak. Not knowing much about sexing I thought she was a he! Hence the unisex name. Eddie was a sweetheart, if not a slight moody as most hens can be. She put up with my manhandling to trim her mandibles, and she'd eat from my hands, sit on my shoulder and enjoy any handmade toys I gifted her with awed glee. The pet shop had her in a barren little isolation cage, so anything was epic to little Eddie. Her favourites were simplistic, her number one being a rope sided swing made with a perch base of ash branch. She'd swing and swing all day, even if the cage door was wide open. I fondly recall her obsession was so great she'd swing so hard her head would often touch the top bars where she gained so much height, and the string was fairly long! The swing can be seen partially below and in one of the pictures later on. She made me smile, such a little sweetie. I could feel her thanks for giving her a new life oozing every time we did anything together.

I never knew her age, all I knew was she was over a year old and very tiny. She was my little pied friend, sitting on my shoulders and listening to my day's rambles. Her passing was untimely, she became eggbound towards the end of Christmas Eve, and I rang the vet hoping to get her seen to. The response I got was not the one I was hoping for. Instead of a caring compassionate voice telling me she would be seen immediately, I was greeted with a rushed agitated tone that put my back up immediately. “I'm afraid we simply cannot stretch to an EMERGENCY call for JUST a budgie!” the man retorted gruffly.

My anger boiled, and at that point I remember losing my cool. I recall informing him very roughly that while HE may see Eddie as “just a budgie” I see her as my pet and my family. I furrowed my brow and gripped the phone tightly; “And if I so wish to pay handsomely for a veterinarian to tend to her ailment, then I should wish for my need to be met! And while I am at it, when I or any other person takes on any animal, be it a Great Dane to a Hamster, that person burdens themselves with the need to cater to that animals needs and be responsible for that animals health, wellbeing and comfort!” I took a breath waited for a response I never got beyond a muffled gulp. I raised my sting one last time and finished with a bark; “And, while I'm here, please remove me from your database. I no longer wish for my animals to attend your clinic, your attitude is frankly appalling!”

 

 

 

I never took my pets to that string of vets again. What right does anybody have to deny any creature medical aid when they need it? Regardless of species or breed. Eddie passed away that night. I kept her warm, and I researched what I needed to do to help her myself. It was insufficient. I returned home from a walk to find her dead on the cage floor. I was so angry, I remember feeling such sadness, but I was too angry to cry. I promised myself another bird would be wrong of me, like I was trying to replace her, and I didn't want that on my conscience.


I lasted until new years day, and I said enough, I need another. That moment is when, little did I know, that my world would change indefinitely...


That's The One!

 

(Pictured : Where I lived, Wookey, and the long trek to the middle of nowhere to Upton Noble!)

Scouring the papers, the online adverts, I shuffled through a few likely candidates but was drawn to a specific advert that mentioned pieds. I rang, and was immediately sold on the idea. The breeder was a fair way away, but I convinced my father to drive us to the town of Upton Noble, near Taunton in Somerset, where my future little sweetheart was born. The journey was a long one, full of wrong turns and choice cusses, we eventually found the house and met a lovely man I believe was called Julian.

 

(The face that stole my heart; Mikko as a chick)

 

He showed us into a long birdhouse through his back gate, that was specifically designed as he said he was registered disabled and the birds were a massive hobby for his spare time. He had a lovely garden, and I recall walking into the shed and the whole right wall was filled with breeding cages. He went to walk be down to the bottom, directing my glances to various cages of youngsters as he went, but I dropped behind just as he cast a look over his shoulder and came back over to a cage I was peering into. A sea of light cobalt and white pieds flitted from perch to perch above me, while a little white face was peeping over the white tray edging of the cage in the bottom, beady black eyes deep as the ocean, and striking blue cheek patches on the sweetest little face I've ever seen. He was sat on the floor, his expression one of happy curiosity.

 “That one.” I smiled. Julian looked at me a little surprised. “Don't you want to see the others..?” He gestured down the length of the room. I shook my head. “I think I know which one I want to take home with me today.” I cooed through the bars and the little face bobbed merrily. Julian found a box and simply plucked the little chap off the floor, not a sound, not a fuss, not a struggle. It was only when the little soul was lifted did I see all his colours. He was a gorgeous shade of blue, on a body of crisp white. He sported a cobalt head and back, with black spots of opaline. His sweet little face had “flecking” to the head which looked like eyebrows. I was immediately smitten!

Finnish Results


Julian had informed me that my new charge was about 3 weeks old, just over, fully weaned (i'd watched him eat to be sure) and was born in December. I opened the box and with some persuasion, my new little spark plopped out onto the nearest perch, then decided to flop back to the floor. I left him for an hour and came back to find him staring wide eyed on the highest perch, his little cheeks fluffed out in bemusement.

 

  (Pictured ; Mikko as a chick, sleeping on my Wacom tablet in my hand and below in stages as a baby)

 

“What shall we call you, ey?” I mused. I rattled off a few names, none stuck, so I considered various names over a few hours, and went onto the computer. “What about... Milo..!?” I said, leaning to the cage corner. His eyes blinked and his little head tilted. “Not convinced..?” I asked. It felt nearly right, but not quite. It didn't fit. As I turned around to the screen, my finish friend Mikko had logged onto a chatroom, and the penny dropped. Mikko! I love it! “What about Mikko, then..?” I called out to him. His head shot up, his cheeks fluffed out, and he made a tiny little burble of contentment. Mikko it was. From that moment onwards, Budgie Ring Number 64JD06L was to become my little Meeksies, the one biggest influencing creature ever to grace my life. My menace!


Pied Addicts Anonymous

(Below ; Mikko and Sandy meet for the first time, Meeks is totally unphased, having a stretch!)

I had always loved Pied budgies, but Mikko was my major starting point. I wanted more. I'd have all pieds if I could! There was only one other colour I had fancied for years and that was a Yellowface Cobalt Blue. That was to come later, little did I know.

 

I trained Mikko constantly. He was such a joy to teach and such a sponge to learn things. I never got bored of his bold, handsome colouration and his sweet little face. The only downside was staying angry at him when he was naughty! He came everywhere with me. Always on my shoulder, my hands, arms or head. He was well socialised, meeting everybody new and always being taught manners and new tricks. His favourite thing in the world was to give kisses

(pictured left on the door handle, below on my ex's shoulder, below left flying, and below with my mum, on her hand giving her a kissy!)

 

By the time he was 2 months old, he was silly tame, confident, noisy and had mastered Step Up, Come, Down, Home, High Four (only four toes y'see!), Shake, Touch (target stick), NO! (stop what you're doing), Gizzakiss! And “Sick it to me!” which was pick up a ball and throw it at me. He loved water, perking up instantly at the mention of “Washwash!” and carrying him to a tap. He'd skitter around my fingers, throwing himself around under the cold tap, mumbling and tweeting to himself, usually getting more on me than his own person! He loved coming into the shower too, and had his own perch. He'd hop on my head before I put shampoo on and would resemble a drowned rat dancing about infront of the shower head.

 

Something that I never quite understood was his love of travel. He'd go for hours in the car in his cage, or I'd walk him down the end of our huge gardens and riversides just letting him view the world around him. Picking him dandelions and field grasses to munch on the way. He loved it. I never had to cover him in the car, he would sit up tall, sing and talk, blowing kisses the whole journey, in awe and excitement of the world zipping by. Once I was more confident I'd stick my hand inside and he'd happily veg out the entire journey on my fingers or arm. He was such a journeyman.


One of his funniest party tricks was to steal food and usually get himself into a pickle doing so. I fondly remember watching a Hula Hoop packet patter across my desk one day, and double-taking, watched as two little pink legs paddled madly until there was a resounding plop and he'd reached the edge of the desk, making a short journey onto the floor below. A flash of whites and blue darted out of the upturned packet and shot up onto my knee with a disgruntled ruffle, showering me in salt and crumbs! I laughed so hard, and he looked so irked! The wandering packet was to become one of his favourites in company. He also quickly became an omnivore, setting his beak to any matter he considered edible. In my vast collection of memories I have a photo of him (below) just as he'd attached himself to my hand and started chowing down on a roast chicken drumstick. From that moment onwards he'd be a regular visitor to cannibalism! One of his grub thieving tricks was to not only want to steal curries, but he'd roll the wet curried cubes of chicken into the dry rice, covering it entirely, before racing off down the table with it and tucking in with gusto. He'd eat a fair amount before it was confiscated again!


(Below ; Stealing my mum's breakfast!)
 (Below ; Crisp packet theft in progress)
( Below ; Bathroom Budgie; His shower perch and mirror perches)

I remember him hitting 5 months old and I was getting irate with his teenage hormones kicking in. I recall timing him out countless times and various other methods to calm his dander. He still found time to be soppy, preening my hair, eyebrows, even skin! (below) He'd get his saucy mood on with anything that would sit still long enough for him to hop on. He'd even use the rugs and carpet if I took all his soft toys away from him! After 6months I felt he was happy and confident enough to have a friend. It was early June, and my birthday was on the 7th. I was going to treat myself.

 

At the time I bred fish, guppies at that moment. The same pet shop I adopted Eddie from had a fresh delivery of budgies in the one day and I made the mistake of having a look.

I saw a gorgeous hen, deep blue cobalt and bright yellow face. She was stunning. I asked the owner if he'd consider swapping her for her cost in guppies for his fish section. After some consideration, a few days later I was owner to my 2nd budgie,

who I'd had an idea for a name in mind since I saw her. Little Miss Molly! (pictured)

Mikko was absolutely besotted with his new lady. She however, was not so charmed! She was isolated for about 2 months while I made sure she had no illnesses, but Mikko would call to her and after I was sure of her health, he got on her cage and chatted her up through the bars. The one evening I let them out together, flying around, happy as ever. They both returned to Mikko's cage and that was that! Molly never let Mikko smooch, mate or get too chummy. Not for a long long time. I wanted to breed them and so once she was 11months old, I gave her a nestbox to examine. She was always on edge, but would step up when asked.

Despite his awe of a ladyfriend, it never failed to make me smile how he wouldn't think twice if I passed or wanted his attention, he'd drop poor Molly like a hot potato and come running to me! She always had a look of sheer disgust on her face every time, poor girl! But the time would come where she'd give in and I'd eventually have the Mikko kids that I craved.

Mikko would spend his days on my shoulder, dossing about my desk, watching me on the computer, playing with anything he could find. Pens (right) , paper, clips, string, bags, throwing his toys on my keyboard and running over my fingers, waiting to stop and jump my hands so he could bite me if I pressed a certain key that he felt was “his” (usually Y or P for some reason!). It made me laugh so much. He'd hawk overy my hand and peck violently each time I touched “his” key. I later got a Wacom Tablet for the PC. (pictured below) The pen for it was his new obsession. He'd sit on my hand singing and cussing to it, and if I spun it on a flat surface he'd go mad running in circles jumping on it! I have videos of some of that stuff. It was brilliant to watch. Will link videos at the end of this piece.

The time came that my then boyfriend of about 3 years decided he wanted to leave and we split up. At the time I was taming someone's chicks and was facing the prospect of eviction and health concerns. I had to sell a fair number of my breeding fish, the taming chicks and some possessions to keep the flat long enough to find somewhere else. I was heartbroken at the finish of the relationship, but Meeks was always there, on my shoulder, licking the tears from my cheeks and being my little mottled rock of colour.

 

I later moved back to the home town I came from. The birds came into the new flat and were awed immediately by the high Victorian ceilings. They later loved flying around it's vast roof and sitting watching the world go by. Mikko ranting and cussing away merrily at passing cars, screaming profanity at certain ones he deemed worthy! He was about a year old by that point. His vocabulary was amazing and his words clear and very much in context at times. He's pick things up from youtube, the telly, the radio, and household sounds and phrases. I have so many good videos of him talking from this stage in his life. Not to mention great photos of his proud self strutting for his girlfriend, hoping someday she'd yield to his advances. (above)

I still have a video shot on the carpet of that flat where you can still see my houseplants in boxes in the lounge, and Meeks is playing with his blue “Mousie!” on the floor. (pictured right) His little feet pitter patter on the carpet, he tries to eat the camera lens, and firmly tells me “OI!!” when I try and move his Mousie for a better shot! Such a ham! There is also a great video from this flat of Mikko talking in the bathroom mirror and playing with that Wacom pen in the hands of my boyfriend. In another he's on Ben's head, swearing his socks off, and comes out with “Pack it in, S'turd, I shaln't tell you again!!!” Needless to say the “S'turd” was a shortening of some profanity you may be able to guess, that make me laugh so much.

(pictured below getting in on every available photograph! Ben left, Me right)

Below doing his Facehugger budgie and preening Ben's eyebrows!


On The Move Again


In mid May I moved yet again. This time to be with Ben in Kidderminster. The flat was small and dark, but it would have to do, we couldn't be picky. I got a job more or less straight away in a construction company, whom later went bust and I was unemployed for just over 2 years. During this period I spent more quality time with Mikko and he was always out and about. Cussing, ranting, getting into mischief and generally being a nut. He'd matured into a beautiful bird, and Molly was looking well also.

He had hoards of toys he went mad for, especially a little Wobbling Weelble Ball, of which I have an epic video of him running it in circles, standing on it, spinning it and smacking himself in the face with! At the end of the video I throw him one of the slotted cat balls past the camera lens and he shoots by, a blue of colour going “Aieee!!” That video still makes me laugh to this very day.

(Mikko ensuring no soup is wasted!)

The nest box went back up and stayed disused for a long while. I tamed a few other birds for people in that time and many faces came and went in the house. Mikko was gregarious & trusting to all of them, and he was always happy to sit on people, preen them, be a magpie and twiddle their jewellery, ever content to spend a bit of time with any of the birds I had then come back to me. He loved kisses, always “blowing” kisses and wanting one if he was on your hand. He was so fearless I once yawned and he hopped straight into my mouth and started pecking at my teeth. This later turned into a bit of an amusing trick and I have a hilarious photo of him doing it to Ben (below).

The time came when Molly went in the box and eventually started getting broody. She was about 1.5yrs old, maybe 2, and I put blue glass marbles in her concave and she eventually got bored of glass eggs and let Meeks mate. The indignation in her face was hilarious but she put up with it to get her eggs!

Her first clutch passed away, she fed the chick air and it didn't last the night.

Her other eggs were “clear” where poor Mikko hadn't got his aim quite right and the second clutch was more successful. Molly was mum to 5 gorgeous chicks, and Mikko a proud dad. To this day I have 3 of the 5, with one of the others belonging to my friend, Brent, and another sold to a friend on Budgerigars forum. 4 pieds, one yellowface sky blue. I still want to breed my lot that I kept, one of the two hens retaining her violet shades from a chick.

 

(Above ; Nest box, eggs and marbles, and mating, much to Molly's clear disgruntlement)

(Below ; The usual state of affairs, Mol looks most displeased!)

 

The Kids;

 Indie and VC

Goober

 Concorde (Conk!)

 And BC

 (Below : Mikko, his son Goober, and myself!)

 


Intelligence in Small Form

 

Time went on, Mikko was as lovely as ever. Tipping his head for some scratches and love, and rushing to the cage bars when I brought over their daily greens.

 

I was always buying him toys and new things to enjoy. He loved bells and toy balls, possibly one of the things that contributed to his illnesses later in life. He loved plastic rings, textured balls and ropes he could chew twiddle and nibble. He loves playing Peek-a-Meeksies through some plastic hoops he had. Very sweet! (pictured).

His vocabulary blossomed and spanned many words and sentences. I clocked in his word count at an easy 90 words, possibly more. He used them correctly, usually, and could recite sentences or phrases from films or TV series. He copied many household sounds, including the peep of the low battery on the fire alarm, the clatter or my keyboard, hiccups and a sharp intake of breath that I did when I had hiccups. He even showed ability to understand not only context but situations and meanings.

 

 

 

 

If I was to present him with a glass of juice, and say “It's cold. Want some?” he would immediately hop on the glass rim and sip daintily at the squash, pausing for a second to shake his head & flick what was in his beak at the time up my face, usually! He would blow kisses and bob his head up & down if I had some outside of the bars, and would even drink through the cage wires happily. Yet, if I had a cup of tea, I would say “It's HOT!” and he would everso carefully touch at the rim with his beak, tapping it, then touching his beak into the fluid, testing the cup edge with a toe, then hopping on & having a mouthful. I never gave him too much as it wasn't good for him, but a sip never hurt.

He also cottoned on to the vague understanding of surface tension. If I left a glass of juice unattended, with say an inch of fluid left in the bottom with a straw sitting in the glass, Mikko would come along, sit on the rim, and shimmy the straw up & down between his feet and his beak, drink from the end of the straw, and continue to dip and drink until he had his fill. Very clever, I thought.

His ability to take context and situations into consideration awed me most. If something had gone wrong and someone cussed or ranted to themselves, Mikko would pipe up in his best gruff tone; “Tough Sh*t!!” and nod his head accordingly to get his point across further! If something had been done or achieved, he would dance on his perch in the background chanting “Yes!” or “Good BIIIIIRD!” (he always rolled his r's if he was happy) with a smug expression.


His love for toys was as deep as ever. Anything that tinkled, jingled or rattled was a hit, and god forbid anything had a shiney surface, you'd lose him for hours to it. He'd amassed a whole box of just his toys. A sweet member of the budgerigars forum called Sigrid even sent us a lovely little plane that was a swing, all the way from Canada! Meeks was besotted and it became my well known avatar in the end, pilot Meeksies over and out! (pictured) I remember buying him a 70's looking disco ball, and he did the usual “Oh SCARY new toy, it'll eat me!!” thing for a day then the following morning he was glued to it, spinning it and blowing it kisses, dancing about having a boogie up & down the perch. He never failed to make my day brighter, he was a ray of sunshine.

Try again?


The time came around I wanted to breed Molly and Mikko once again. He was making all the right motions but none of the resulting eggs were fertile (below). Molly was nearing 2.5yrs and I assumed she may have been infertile at that point, being heavy exhibition blood.

I tried Mikko with another hen, Cleo, (below with Meeks) who was a Double Factor Blue Spangle, which was a mutation that made her look white, but with blue undertones in the right light. She'd been breeding before so she was experienced, I set up the box, put her food in, including a pot of oats/groats for crop milk production for the hen. Cleo was all over him, but Mikko wasn't interested in mating at all at this point, he made a beeline for the groats pot when I turned my back and practically ate the lot to himself. This act made him incredibly sick, and I ended up isolating him for about 2 months while he got better. He'd given himself liver damage by eating it, and I nursed him with plenty of veg, probiotics, seed rations, soaked seeds and Milk Thistle tincture. His green liver-ailed beak slowly returned back to a yellow hue and I thought he was out of the woods. About 5 months later his belly started to baloon again once he was back in with his mate Molly. He was gorging on the seeds again so I ended up rationing the seed pot for both of them and trying to distract them with more greens than ever before, but Molly would hog them and Meeks would just sit on the food pot rummaging through seed hulls desperately trying to find the last unhulled millet grain in the bottom. He'd made himself desperately ill and from that point he was never quite the same.

 

From that point onwards I wished endlessly I'd not tried to breed him again, but hindsight is a wonderful thing when the damage is already done. He seemed to plod along happy enough, talking & cussing, always making new words out of one swear word and one everyday word. I'd always walk past the cage and hear something about nether regions in the toaster, or fatherless crumpets, fornicating teacups or suchlike. He never failed to amuse me with his concoctions.


His love for play dwindled off slowly and this was the point I realized he'd changed forever, and for worse. He loved flying so much yet rarely bothered to come out when the cage door was open. I often had to winkle him out and close the door, otherwise he'd be back in trying to eat the seed, or trying to get in other cages for their seeds. I weighed him a lot and he never lost much despite his diet.

He started sleeping more than usual, and so I upped his milk thistle and consulted a veterinarian about his lethargy. She said given his past it's to be expected, just keep doing what I was and keep him comfortable. So I did. That night I sat with him on my wrist and stared numbly. Losing him was something I just couldn't wrap my head around. He looked so confused, his little eyes scanning and searching as if to say “Why? What's the matter, ma?” I smiled at him & kissed his little head. He blew me a zesty kiss and danced a bit on my hand before plopping off onto the desk for a run around and to attack my keys, for some reason only known to the dear soul himself. He loved my graphics tablet pen and sat there chatting it up for a good 10 minutes. What could I do? I couldn't just put him to sleep, what if he wasn't suffering any pain and I did it needlessly, i'd never forgive myself. Yet what if he was and I was being cruel by keeping him alive? My brain whirred and sank in my head. What WAS there that I could do at that point?


The Last Time


My job had been flexible up until moving internally from the fairground into the reserves in the Safari Park. Before, if I'd got home early he was out & about, sitting on my shoulder being himself and I could keep an eye on how he was going. He seemed happy and bouncy so I assumed he was comfortable enough at that time. His belly and bottom was still big and I knew his liver wasn't grand. He started getting a messy bum on occasions and the green hue always told me it was his liver complaining. He'd have a series of days where he'd prefer to sleep a lot and keep to himself, and I let him do that, he always bounced back and was seemingly ok again within a few days.

 

The time came where I noticed he wasn't talking as much and I knew he was getting weaker in body, I spent a lot of time with him and he was so eager to be tickled and loved. Always chatting away and blowing me kisses. Tinkering with my earrings, watch straps or necklaces. Hopping on my head, tickling my scalp and abseiling down my long hair to my shoulders again. His urge to play had long gone, as his want to fly much. He was a perch potato but seemed content enough to hitch rides with me or sit about on the willow branches I had for them outside the cages, preening & chattering to himself.

I started August Nights shifts, and that entailed 10-12hr days. After a couple I was resigned to coming home, having a drink and a bite to eat, showering, and going to bed. I had little time to winkle the birds out and let them fly before I went to sleep, it had to wait for my days off, and they were usually spent out of the house catching up on things I needed to do, or doing housework. I went into a basic autopilot with the frustration of two towers over around 12hrs a day for the whole month. Training was a pipe dream until the August rush was done so I had to put up with it. It was during this time that Mikko began to deteriorate and I was too brain numb to notice it.

I began noticing on days off that he would freak out a bit if I covered them over, and he'd make an angry dolphin noise if one of the others got too close to him and he'd peck at them. A very unusual behaviour for him. He lost interest in food until it was shoved in his face, he had no interest in other birds, and he only had eyes for my attention, forcing his feathers through the bars and pleading with me to scratch his head and rub out his little moulting tufts and unfurl the waxy pinfeathers growing up underneath. His face would be a gloating picture of ecstasy, eyes firmly squeezed shut, feathers ruffled out, slouched forward making a happy little garble burble under his breath. Every time that I passed his cage however, he'd either be straining at the bars to come and sit on me, or he'd be asleep. I'd indulge him with my shoulders as often as I could, and he always came out to meet visitors and clients that came in for bird training or boarding, he was still very gregarious with humans. Something else I noticed during August was that he wouldn't give me a kiss on request as easily, he'd think about it then not bother, whereby usually he'd either at least blow me a kiss verbally or he'd lightly peck my bottom lip as a “kiss”. He'd stare at me a bit put out and I never bothered pushing him for it. It was a day shy of a week after this that everything began to come tumbling down around us.

 

 

The Worst Days of my Life


I came home late one night, the lions had been their uncooperative selves and didn't want to go into the house easily so I was later than normal. I dragged myself in and threw my work clothes on the bed ready to have a shower and veg out for the night. Tomorrow was a much needed day off and I had plans to spend it blitzing the housework then vegging with the birds. I never got that far.

 

I went into the kitchen to dig out some spinach from the fridge, and padded back with three clumps, one for each cage of birds. I pinned all the veggies up and went to go back to make a cup of tea. Something felt wrong, very dreadfully wrong. Mikko hadn't even noticed the greens only slightly to the left of his face. He usually dived in with gusto. “Meeks..?” I called softly, and went to touch his cheek... he woke with a start and bit my finger lightly, then when he realized who it was, preened the offending finger in apology. “Not to worry, dear.” I cooed, “Eat yer greens up they're lovely and fresh.” He didn't move. I moved the peg of greens closer to him. “Here, eat 'em!” I said, touching his beak with a leaf. His face lit up and he tucked in ravenously. “It's like he can't see them...?” I thought to myself as I walked back to make a cup of tea. While pouring the milk in dawned on me that that's probably what had been causing his lacklustre lifestyle recently, perhaps he felt insecure and lazy because he couldn't see straight. I dumped the milk where I picked it up from and abandoned my tea with haste.

I rummaged wildly for a torch or small light, and went to pick Mikko up. I called to him yet he did something very out of character when I went to cup him in my hands; he shook, like a leaf! Tears welled in my eyes and I couldn't wrap my head around the fact he was so scared even though he knew it was me picking him up. I examined his eyes, no apparent cataracts or marks, I made quick motions to his eyes, no blinking, no iris movement. I shone a light in both and neither eye wanted to respond.

My heart sank with a resounding iron clang. My Mikko was blind.

It was well past 9pm at this stage and I frantically scurried about trying to find people to help me get him to a vet the following morning. I modified his existing cage layout with ladders leading to food & water so he could navigate by memory & touch. My partner was working, one other friend was working, I couldn't drive at the time and everyone else I asked never got back to me or received my messages. I was doing my tiny, why him, why now, why couldn't I get hold of anyone? Above all, why hadn't I seen this before now? Had it been a development that day, or had it been going on but I was so braindead that I couldn't see it? I was so angry at life, at myself, everything. I couldn't believe what was happening. It was the following day I managed to get an appointment with the specialist avian vet. My partners mother kindly took me on such short notice.

(Above : Mikko on his T stand. Below; Mikko's last ever photo, you can see the dilated pupils clearly)

Poor Mikko shook and made angry noises when I put him in the carry box. No amount of words would calm him this time, he called out most of the long journey to the Birmingham vets. I felt so awful. Would the vets tell me to put him to sleep? Would they be able to give him something to restore his vision? My head whirred as I sat there thinking, my hand in the carry box, petting him.

All he wanted the whole ride was to be tickled or sit on my hand like he used to in the cage in the car. I had a horrible gut feeling when I sat in the waiting room that all was not going to be well.

We got called in, and I put Mikko on his T stand and voiced to him what it was and to mind the ends so he didn't fall off. The vet seemed in awe he was so trusting & tame. He squirmed when she examined him and told me it didn't look good. The swelling, the behaviour, the bad belly, all pointed to either poisoning or something far worse, Psittacosis. My heart sank another notch. To finalize the blow she said he'd need an x-ray to determine the poisoning & see what’s going on inside, and a blood test for Psittacosis would wind the bill up to around £200. I had to do it, it was for Mikko. I'd find it from somewhere. I held off the waterworks for a few more seconds then started to sob into his feathers. I knew the risk of him not surviving his aesthetic were stupidly high, and I had that awful feeling I'd never see him alive again after that. I tried explaining through snivels and stutters that he was like my child and very important to me. The vet nodded and said she'd settle him and get his x-ray done.


I left poor Mikko, unwillingly, and was told I'd receive a phonecall to tell me what was going on later. I wanted to stay but had only just managed to grovel a morning off work to get him to the vet in the first place. I had to go go to work. My head felt so stuffed and distorted. My poor little angel. I went home in a daze, unsure of what I was going to do and if I could even find that kind of money on whim.

I got in and my partner Ben was going to a doctors appointment as I came into the kitchen. He dissappeard and I dug my pre prepared work lunch out of the fridge, got into my uniform in record speed and was packing my bag ready to go when my mobile began to ring. The hairs stood up on my neck as I looked at the screen. It was the vets number. Oh god, I thought to myself as I answered.


“It's not good news I'm afraid...” the voice of the vet told me. My nose begun to sting with the various prospects of dread running through my mind. “We got his xray and he had a lot of issues inside, but he sadly didn't come around from the anaesthetic and passed away shortly after.” To put it mildly, it felt like the walls of the world had just folded around my entire person. I remember only being able to say “Oh no... no... no.”


Apparently he had testicular cancer, liver disease and heavy metal poisoning. He was a very sick chap indeed. My face burned and I couldnt' hold off any longer, I started bawling down the phone and apologised to the vet, I'd come and pick his little person up later on, and thanking her for what she did for him before breaking down like a child in the middle of the lounge.

Breathing was a chore, the world was blurred with tears and my heart ached like nothing on earth. Why my Meeksies?? What did he ever do...? Why ME? Why take my baby? So many questions. I've never felt grief like that ever before in my life. I've lost pets before and cried like a baby but this was a new kettle of fish. He was just shy of 5yrs old, he was my child, I'd just lost my 5yr old kid in my mind. I was besides myself. I had to text my boss saying I couldn't work. He attempted to ring but I couldn't speak and simply stuttered & bawled down the phone. I felt bad I couldn't get in but driving & working in this frame of mind would be disaster, simply put.

Losing him was so painful. I spent the rest of the day crying my heart out, unable to think, do much of anything bar weep. My brain felt flushed down my neck and my spine felt like it had been pulled out of my back like a well timed tablecloth trick, leaving everything else in perfect position. I had the task ahead of me trying to tell everybody that he'd gone. Texting through tears was awkward. I had to correct myself continually to make a coherent message. I picked him up that afternoon. I tried my hardest to keep the crying to myself until I got out of the waiting room. It was so difficult. I had his xray too. It showed his enlarged liver, his testicular caner and shards of metal in his belly through years of picking at metal parts in his toys. I'd managed to just scrape enough together to pay his £150 vet bill. Nothing worse than big bills and a dead soulmate to show for it.


I made it into work the next morning. A colleague make the mistake of asking me how I was and she could tell I was having issues keeping the waterworks away. I told her what had happened, and I recall her asking if I wanted to talk about it, or if it was too fresh. All I could do was shake my head & snivel, I couldn't even make words at that point. I spent the next fortnight in a haze, sobbing every time I thought of him. Crying each time I passed his cage and didn't see him in there waiting for his tickle. It felt unnatural going past and not shouting in a great zest; “Meeeeennnace!!” and having him kiss and bob in excitement. Or pop my head around the door jam squealing “Meeeeeksie!!” and watching him stalk me through the bars, blowing kisses until I got over to him, then he'd swear and dance around until I let him out. It was wholey unnatural not to find him darting out of his cage and coming to find me, or doing his tiny so he could come and sit on friends and visitors to the house (Rob and Mikko pictured above. Mikko loved listening to music being played, as can be seen a few photos above on Ben's shoulder while playing a double bass). Life just felt empty, desolate. My grief was inexplicable to any being, I couldn't word it enough to be satisfactory to how I felt. My world had collapsed in catastrophic fashion.

(Mikko's Xray above, click for full resolution. Metal shards, liver and testicle shape can be seen here)

 

(Click here for full res of above image with markers)

Rest in Peace my Sweet


When it came to burying him, it wasn't just any old hole to the ground style funeral. I wanted him to be remembered in all his glory and spectacular form, as he ever was in life. Living in a flat burying him here was a non starter. Not only would I face leaving him here when we moved, I'd face the prospect of him potentially being disturbed and dug up by someone in later years. I didn't want that, so I decided on a pretty portable tomb for my baby boy. I scoured garden centres for an attractive and large glazed ceramic pot. Most were unaffordable and expensive as much as they were stunning, but I eventually settled on an elegant cobalt blue glazed pot with a pretty fleur de lys vine type pattern wheeling around the top of it in a border. (Pictured below) It was the right price and that was to be Mikko's resting place. I then hunted for a nice crisp white rose to adorn him with. It had to be pure white as he was, and a long lived rose would complement him for years to come. After selecting my items Meeks was put to rest in his pot. His little plywood casket made to size by Ben to fit inside nicely. I have plans to plant blue and black cornflowers around it during spring and summer, to bloom in his colours as nature had intended in life.

I couldn't lay him to rest without keeping memories of him, and my celebration of my passed birds lives is to make a dream catcher from their feathers, so I carefully, and through tear streaming eyes, took some of his little feathers for keeping, and with a dab of oil and gentle persuasion took off his little red leg ring, so that it could live upon the chain of my necklace (below), between shoulder and heart, where my little soldier belongs.

While I have much of Mikko still with me, in his kids and grandchildren, his existence has passed on and can never be matched nor replaced. Nor would you ever want him to be. He was unique, so special. His grandson Tiko (below) is showing many kindly traits of his grandadd, and I really hope he is as trusting and sweet as Mikko was. He's already got the beautiful face, those striking blue cheeks and deep black button eyes that once drew me to my Meeks, and the bold handsome colouration of black, blue and whites to his name.

 

RIP Mikko, you were the best budgie, friend and soul-mate I ever could have dreamed of. I shaped you and in turn you shaped me. Without you, I'd not be the same person I am today. Your passing was untimely at just under 5yrs old. I thank you for your kindness, your sweet nature, your trust and love unconditionally, and for constantly reminding me just how pure your love was even though you were so very small, but such a very massive part of my life. You were the burning light at the end of every dark tunnel I walked down, always a beacon when I felt lost in my head. While your mortal flame may have died out and my world plunged into the darkness, the embers if your love, soul and wonderful life burn on in my heart forever and always, serving to remind me of just how very lucky I was to have such a special little soul like you.

Always adored, never forgotten, followed my thousands. A tragic loss.

Sleep tight my little angel, you will always be a part of me.

Love, as ever, Bigbird. (me) xxx

 

 Youtube link for Mikko's videos;

 All should open in a new window once clicked. Age related, recent vids first, older ones last.

1. Chatterbox ;  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIs0C4d0K8U

2. Playing with the Weeble; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnRCCnpdZ4I

3. The Madhouse ;  Everyone cram in! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUSmF8QIF5U

4. Cuss you, m'lady! ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj3zky9VQQU

5. Play ball! You throw it, i'll run after it, and tickle you after! ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vlr43tWjweE

6. Bathroom Prattle; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8INTS5zkLQ

7. Heavenly Scritches, enjoying some love ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l1cw8oQLmk

8. Boogie Boogie Play Time! Sick that wacom pen! ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS-3aCYd06s

9. Molly has a bath and soaks mikko too. ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx4FovslBLA

10. Fearlessly tame ; Mikko does his hanging upside down and not caring trick; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp-wqB38XpI

11. Mousie 1; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHoqJA3eeBU

12. Mousie 2 ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiHS4jCbg10

13. Swearing Meeks ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM-898pq4jQ

14. Sewaring mk 2 ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AezZim0Swec

15. Your nose is now my perch! ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMFRqkmxJd4

16. Sabbotage the Can & RUN! ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTypnmmiHjM

17. Mikko and Molly Glomp my head! ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbpeQ5bhVoc

18. Playing with my straw ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHdQ-i-9tz8

19. Straw 2 ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPitMnVeU8g

20. "Sexy BIRD!" Ego Meeksies ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdAGMzpTyNk

21. Baby Meeksies ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-LUnahywXs

22. Mikko steals my Juice ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KarYzqqALlI

23. Mikko attacking my Wacom Pen ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7r9kGZKJJk