Beju, beloved lovebird, died on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. He was 13 years and 10 months old.
Pictures: http://i.imgur.com/rzmAIh.jpg Bej and Blue outside, this summer, after a bath. Beju has the red face.
http://i.imgur.com/Va3JJh.jpg (from the other side)
The name Beju stood for Baby Junior. His father's name was Baby.
Beju and his mate Blue had many many babies. They were a veritable egg factory, and excellent parents, for quite a few years; their offspring are spread throughout Seattle. Blue became egg-bound a couple years ago and we had to take her to the vet; after that she stopped laying. Tracie says they continued mating up until last week at least
I found him face up in the sink. His feet were in a perching position, as if he had been sitting on the curtain above the sink's window, then fallen.
His eyes were open. His mouth was open, but not making any movement. He was limp when I picked him up.
I put him in a towel, and called Tracie.
After Tracie got home, she held him and showed him to the other lovebirds, to Betty and Princess and Blue. They chirped at him, coming very close, as if trying to wake him up. (I think of the lamentations in the background of Armstrong's second version of "Oh Didn't He Ramble" linked below, where one guy says "Please come back.") Blue preened him and kissed his beak and nipped at his feet.
His eyes closed. But then later they were open. It was strange; perhaps he was paralyzed, not yet dead? When I first found him his eyes had a glazed-over look, but later they had lost that. But then one eye became dented, caved inward. The other eye remained shiny and glossy as I looked into it, talking to him.
We used to say "Bej - cage" to get him to go back in his cage after he'd been out for a while. He understood, and would go back. Sometimes it took him a little while, if he wanted to fly free some more. Later I convinced Tracie to leave all the birds' cages open all the time. Beju and Blue still chose to spend most of their time in their cage
In the last year or so, his beak started growing very long, and we would get it trimmed at the vet. Then Tracie learned to trim it; she would take him in the bathroom and cut his beak with nail clippers when it got so long it started interfering with his ability to eat. I remember once I was outside, and she raised the bathroom window to show him to me, and me to him. He looked out with curiosity, also looking a little flustered because he'd just undergone a beak trim.
I remember many times looking at him in the eyes for a while as he sat in his favorite spot up high in one corner of his cage, until he slowly closed his eyes. That's how I knew he was okay, content, calm; he was also indicating, I think, acceptance of me.
A musical tribute: http://subbot.org/misc/music/ramble.mp3
In the second chorus I tried to imitate the feel of rapid lovebird chirps. I also screwed up the intro a little at 0:07, the second chorus at 1:07; and it gets pretty ragged in the third chorus where I tried to pull out all the stops.
Kid Ory's version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbXzcKX4f20
Louis Armstrong's version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yueotDgmgw - note the tempo speed-up, something I was trying to do on the last chorus of my version.
Another Armstrong version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzkCeWBuTv8 ; I meant to throw in the little phrase Louis does at 3:29-3:30, but I forgot. (This is the version with the band member in the background pleading, "Please come back".)
In the comments to the last video, acousticjass says the intro is "Flee as a bird", a typical New Orleans dirge; fitting. Here's Armstrong's Flee as a bird: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP2nCJXkGKA