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goodbye to my beautiful Sheldon the 30-year-old peachfront conure - 2021-01-31
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goodbye to my beautiful Sheldon the 30-year-old peachfront conure

2021-01-31 - 5:48 p.m.

My heart is broken. After 40 years, I no longer share my life with peachfront conures. My sweet Sheldon, my last peachfront, passed away peacefully on Jan. 29, 2021, only weeks before he would turn 31, a very old age for a small conure like a peachfront. His gotcha day was July 30, 1990, but he was already an adult, and I presume he was hatched in February or March 1990. In any case, he passed only a few weeks to a few months shy of his 31st birthday, a very old age for a peachfront. I don't know of any who have reached age 32.

On Friday morning, he woke me early with a soft croak, drank a lot of water, and mostly rested against my heart. For the first time, he showed no interest in looking out the window or at anything around him. I suspect he had a stroke and was blind in one eye. He kept turning one side of his head to look directly at me with the good eye, and suddenly I realized both eyes (normally red-orange) had turned black. Bleeding on the brain? Considering his age and fragility, I knew he couldn't live forever, but it still seemed to happen so fast. When I had to set him down for a few minutes to feed the other birds, he snuggled up to Plushie and fell asleep. I think he was dreaming, because he was rocking a little, but then he slipped away and stopped breathing.

I knew he was very old, and he had become very creaky-voiced and fragile, but until the very end he was interested in all around him and was active in keeping a good lookout for cats until that very last day. He was such a smart bird. Even though he was an aviary bird for decades, when his mate passed away at age 27, he learned to be a pet who came out on stick and hand, took food, and "helped" me watch birds at the feeder through my office window. Within the last few weeks, he had learned to walk into a birdie backpack so I could take him for walks around the neighborhood-- a Christmas gift for my Amazon, but -- as it turned out-- Sheldon took to the backpack walks instantly and is the one who set the example for Cookie to follow.

He was pretty much the perfect bird. Purchased as an imported "breeder" bird, he paired up easily and fathered Beep (who lived into his mid-teens) and Dale (who lived to be 27). I only bred birds I intended to keep, so when I stopped encouraging them to breed, he went along happily as the attentive half who was always looking out for his mate whether to display to her, to display AT a rival like Courtney, or to call me outside to chase away a pesky cat watching the aviary! All of my peachfronts made a beautiful show in their flight cage for many years. In their late twenties, when they lost interest in flying as they became a bit stiff-winged and arthritic. I changed them into rolling cages that were smaller and easier for them to fly around. But they were so easy going, no matter what, even when we had to evacuate for stupid hurricanes...

When Sheldon's mate passed at age 27, he grieved for quite a long time. As it happened, Courtney's mate also passed at around the same age, and Courtney set the example of transitioning himself from an aviary bird to a hand pet. It took Sheldon longer, but he eventually became a fine pet who loved to sit with me to keep an eye out on the window on the bird feeder. He "saw" everything, but he was guaranteed to always warn me if he saw a cat in our yard. He had a special call for that, and he never, ever lied...

He will be missed. Having spent half my life with this bird and forty years with peachfront conures, I feel incapable of expressing the deep meaning of these birds to my life. Without them, I wonder if I even would have had much of a life. They gave me affection, meaning, joy, inspiration. WIthout them now, I feel lost.

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