Cico: My Pet Grey Cockatiel


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    This story is about a great little friend that I had. My friend’s name was Cico, a normal grey male cockatiel, who was a part of my life for 8 years. He passed away on one cold Saturday evening, February, 9th, 2008. His being a part of my life wasn’t something that I had planned ahead…it just happened, as most great things in life do…So here is the story…

    Cico’s first days in his new home

    On March 2000, my husband and I started living together. It was a year of big changes in my life. After many ups and downs that I had, I decided to quit my job and finish university. I thought it was something that needed to be done. That took a lot of guts, but I knew it was the right thing to do, so I had decided to go with the flow…

    Anyway, on July, 23rd was my husband’s birthday and I wanted to surprise him with something really special. It wasn’t just an ordinary year in our lives, so I thought: “What could the perfect present be?” I knew that he used to own a parrot which sadly died when my husband and his family had to move to another town and couldn’t take him with them.

    So I decided to get him another one. But, parrots, hmmm… At the time I didn’t know anything about them, really. I thought I’d get a budgie, as his previous one was, and I went to a  recommended breeder and asked to buy a budgie. The man was really honest and nice. He told me that I should purchase a young bird if I wanted it to get attached to us, and, at that time, he didn’t have budgies that were so young. “I do have some pretty little cockatiels, if you would like one”, he said. I didn’t even know what they looked like. I looked at a big aviary divided into three parts, and at the lowest part, I spotted him, a small grey feathered creature… “They are all young, don’t worry, just pick the one you like”, the nice man said. I stood and watched all the other birds chirping to one another in one corner.

    He, however, stood right at the opposite side, all by himself, looking kind of proud and above all that fuss. I liked him instantly. I said: “I want the one in the corner, the grey one”. “It’s a male”, the breeder said, though I didn’t have a clue what difference it made. He pulled the bird out in order to place him in a cage that I had purchased.

    Not knowing what kind of cage to buy, I had decided to go for the largest one, which, luckily, turned out to be a good decision. Parrots really do need a lot of space in their house, so the bigger the cage – the better.

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      Happy and content, I asked to pay for the parrot, but, surprisingly, the man refused! “Just take good care of him” he said and refused further discussion. I was stunned. Although, when I think about that now, it was just like a sign…A sign that the little bird was coming home…

      I was a nervous wreck taking the little bird home. But it all went away when my husband opened the door smiling. He was exhilarated that he had got such an unexpected and wonderful birthday present. I was happy for him, but then again, something that’s actually ALIVE came into our house, something that I had never handled before… I put some water and food to his cage and we sat quietly in the room looking at him. “He will need some time to rest a bit and adjust to the new environment”, my husband said. I had been scared? I can’t even imagine how HE must have felt!

      Just ask yourself how you would feel if you were taken as a child by a total stranger, away from your family in an unknown direction, with an uncertain future? It would surely be a traumatic experience, wouldn’t it? We are so concerned about our own and our children’s wellbeing, but at the same time, many of us seem to be oblivious to the fact that animals have the same feelings, too. Birds show the same emotions that humans do: happiness, resentment, fear, jealousy, anger, boredom, etc. People must be aware of that when purchasing a bird.

      It’s not just a decoration in our living room, office or (God forbid!) our kitchen! Birds are as sensitive as humans and we need to keep that in mind. Otherwise, don’t take a bird home, because you would only make her life even more miserable. I always say that birds are just like humans, and so much more… No bird will ever bite, scream or pick its feathers unless it has a good reason. And the reason often lies in the owner’s behavior towards it. Respectful and contientious approach to a pet bird is a must, which results in an affectionate relationship between the owner and the bird, bringing so much joy and happiness to both.

      Living with Cico …

      During the first year of our life together, we had managed to establish a trusting relationship with Cico. I started to realize that the first time I wanted to let him out of his cage. It was farely soon after his arrival. Before that, he felt safe in his cage. I kept talking to him and leaning my nose and mouth against his cage bars so that he can touch them. At first he was shy, but later on he would come closer and closer and eventually tried them with his little round shaped tongue. I said: “See, I am not going to hurt you.” Just as many other animals, birds use their senses to assure themselves that they are not going to be hurt.

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        Then, there came a day when it was time for him to go out and experience our living room. He hopped on my hand willingly but the carpet and the couch seemed frightening. Very slowly, he came down and when he touched the carpet, he instantly became excited about it, trying to touch and chew on everything he saw… and there it was, a whole new world full of exciting things to do…

        Soon after that, he started talking. “Ciko” were his first words (that was how I nicknamed him)… Later on, he picked up many more and I felt so content that there was obviously a bond established between us. Songs and tunes were his favorite thing, though. He just loved chirping and whistling. He was free from the cage most of the day, since I was at home with him. He used to go back in only if he wanted some water or a nibble, especially if there was spray millet hanging on the side. He enjoyed checking out every corner of the apartment and wherever he would see his reflection, he would start whistling, dancing or talking (or both at the same time)…

        This used to be his absolute favorite when we would have friends over. He would stand in front of the mirror and start dancing and singing. Everybody would laugh and he completely enjoyed it. I think he just loved to show what he could do to everybody. He loved humans enormously. The love and attention that an owner should give to a bird is just as important as food and water. Birds are sociable creatures and if they don’t get enough attention, they’ll start feeling distrust towards the owner and even develop complete behavior change. This can only lead to illness and eventually death.

        Over the years, Cico had shown us the light of true love, the light that we, humans, don’t often see. He showed us what it means to love unconditionally. He was so forgiving and kind, always ready to share love and affection. His existence was so important to me. He taught me many valuable lessons, which I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

        Cico crosses the rainbow …

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          He left quickly and quietly, just as all the angels do. God loved him. He granted him with love and happiness in life and spared him the misery in the end. Cico didn’t suffer in the end and I’m grateful to God for that.

          That evening, when his heart suddenly started beating fast, it was just too difficult for his little body to overcome. I was siting beside him terrified. Breathing heavily, he just noiselessly whistled once with a whistle that told me how he had to go…It was just a tiny little whistle before his little heart gave up on him. He raised his head high, pointing his beak to the ceiling, just as something from high above was calling him… and then he died.

          My husband pulled him out in a second, trying to give him mouth-to-beak resuscitation, but it was late. There was no heartbeat. He was gone and there was just nothing we could do… I just sat there hopelessly weeping over him. And the picture of my husband, holding Cico in his hands and crying over him was really heartbreaking. We remained still in our living room with him in hands for over an hour, crying our eyes out. It was the end of our life that we’ve known of and cherished for eight years. We knew life would never be the same without him.

          I truly believe that, if he could, he would whistle to us not to worry as his immortal spirit has gone to a wonderful place.


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