As you can tell by the title of this post, we lost our cockatiel Caesar on New Year’s Day. He was 27 and a half – and I had had him in my life for 24 years. I never thought that I would get close to a pet bird or have one be a big part of my life.
I met Caesar on my wife Lynn’s and my first date on December 14, 1997. He was interesting – I though he’d be flying around but Lynn had his wings clipped so as to prevent him from flying into a ceiling fan or a window. He was not too fond of me at first – after all I was competing for attention with “his mummy” Lynn. He lived on top of his cage – but the door was never shut – he had full reign over his domain.
Over the years, he got used to me and I to him. He could talk – saying “Caesar is a pretty bird” or “pretty bird” or the whistle commonly associated with cartoon wolves seeing a pretty girl. He also could “almost” do Jingle Bells (badly), mimic a barking dog, a landline phone ring (he was that old), or the sound of a construction vehicle backing up. I posted a video of his jingle bells and a finishing “pretty bird” on Instagram here. Take a listen.
He loved being in closed spaces (cockatiels in Australia live in holes in trees so I supposed this was instinctual). Out of old shoe boxes, I cut out houses for him and mounted them to the top of his cage. These were his “apartments” and he loved to make them his own by chewing them up. We also got him straw tepees and boxes designed for gerbils and he loved being in them too.
We spoiled him – he got more than bird seed – he like “people food”. His favorites were lobster and steamed clams (just the necks). Whenever he got them, he’d warble in excitement as he ate them.
He’d cuddle with Lynn and get his head scratched. I could get to scratch his head, but only Lynn could get face to face with him. She called Caesar her son, and loved the hell out of him. So did I.
As he aged, I looked to see how long he might live – after all, we knew his loss would be devastating to us. I think the world record is 35, though rarely wo they make 30. Most times it’s 20 and done, if not shorter. Still, he was always there. As I went through multiple surgeries over the years, he kept me company as I recovered.
I said goodnight to him every night, and greeted him every morning. Until last night and this morning that is.
He was the equivalent of a human at 103 years old.
On New Year’s Eve, we usually get lobsters and steamers and this was no exception this year. Caesar was so happy he ate three clam necks and some lobster – warbling his happiness. On New Year’s Day, Lynn took a selfie with him (see photos below), and cuddled with him. By later in the day, he had started getting listless and had trouble walking. He had been arthritic, but this was worse. Lynn cuddled him, and soothed him. Within an hour and a half, he breathed his last and died in her arms.
We are broken hearted of course, but are somewhat comforted in that we know he had a good pampered life. We rarely left him with babysitters (I think only 3 times in 27 years), as Lynn (and I) did not want him to be stressed. Even then, those times were with family he knew.
It has been unseasonably warm here in Massachusetts. To bury him, I had to buy a new shovel as mine was broken. I drove to Klem’s store in Spencer and got a new D-handled shovel – and on the way out looked at the 4 cockatiels in the pet section and cried even more.
Lynn put him in a nice cedar box. For his grave, I dug the hole in the garden by the house in the front yard, right below the window that he looked out of every day. I used some concrete pavers and 5″-high edgers to put in his grave – such that his little coffin was not resting on or under dirt. Basically, I created a little stone box by putting a 16″ x 16″ paving stone in the bottom of the grave with the edgers making walls on top of it. My daughter Ellen and my granddaughter had come by, and we all surrounded his little box with decorative landscaping stones, then I covered it with another 16″ x 16″ paving stone as a gravestone. Then we decorated the rim with the pretty stones.
I’m going to share some photos below – as this is cathartic for me in a way, but I will never stop remembering my little birdie friend. Love ya buddy.
Goodbye my little birdie friend, love ya to pieces. I’ll miss you until the day I die.