We said goodbye to Mark this weekend. She was a Quaker parrot who had been with me for 20 of her 21 years. For Mark’s species, that was a good long life, and she got to experience a lot in those years. Our time together started in 1992. After having small birds like finches and parakeets, I had decided it was time for something bigger. But not big enough to cause real damage like a Macaw or Amazon parrot. I researched small parrots with good talking abilities and had decided on some kind of conure. The pet shop that bought the finches I bred had a few in their bird room that I visited with purchase in mind.
Each visit, I would walk past a cage on an upper shelf that held a little green parrot with a bad attitude. This bird would rush down the sides of the cage, lunging and threatening me, but when I turned to leave gave a plaintive yipe as if to ask where I was going. So me being the implusive 20-something I was then, read up on this ‘boring’ green bird and learned that Quaker parrots are considered one of the top 10 parrot species for talking. (One of the first things I ever did on the then-new internet was research Quaker parrots and join an email list about them. Jon-Mark Davey, a Quaker-enthusiast, ran the Quakerville website way back when, and Mark’s page there from 1995 is still active if you’d like to see Mark as a youngster.)
The size was right; maybe 10 or 12″, and much of that tail. The price was right; $99, which was a lot back then, but under my bird budget cap. So I brought home this raging green velociraptor that wanted nothing from me but blood. Persistence, gloves, and a course of psittacosis medication (I had also adopted a cockatiel from a shelter that was sick, so me, Mark & 300+ finches also had to be medicated) eventually got Mark to enjoy being handled. Mark never did learn to talk much. She said hello, mark-mark, up, out, what, quack, but not much else. She imitated funny noises sometimes and could do tricks like take a bow, flap on command, and wave. Mark never waved goodbye, only hello, because people leaving was not something she wanted to acknowledge. Like most parrots, Mark enjoyed baths, both indoors….
Mark didn’t care for certain aspects of farm life, such as goats.
But warm summer afternoons were just right for hanging out on the back porch with Lucky, another Quaker parrot who came to live with us a few years ago. But old age catches up with us eventually, and this year Mark slowed down quite a bit. She spent some time at Lynden Veterinary Hospital where Dr. Berry and his excellent crew helped us sort out that it was more than just a bug getting Mark down. We set up a hospital cage at home and got to spend a last night together before deciding it was time to say goodbye.
Losing an amimal companion is never easy. Talking with compassionate people like those at Pet Loss can help with the grieving process.