Monday, March 14, 2011

goodbye, old friend

When I wrote my last post, I had no idea that this would be my next post. Our beloved parrot Tucker passed away yesterday. It was very sudden, taking only about 24 hours from the time we realized something might be wrong to the time he died at Animal 911, an ER/hospital for pets.

Tucker was our first "child". One of George's coworkers gave him to us back in September of 1994. We never knew for sure how long he'd lived with her family, but it was at least 5 years (and probably quite a bit longer). His name was Reggie, but he didn't seem to know it, so I didn't feel too bad about changing it to Tucker. (He did learn this name!) His previous family had kept him in the basement, in a cage that was way too small for an amazon blue-front parrot, and George and I kind of felt like we'd rescued him. He definitely had a better life with us.

This picture was taken in November of 1994, when we were back in Ames for Thanksgiving. We took Tucker with us, and brought this cage (his original home) so that he would have a place to stay whenever we traveled there. (Later on, when we had kids, it was too hard to fit him in the car with us, so we would get a bird-sitter instead, and leave him at home.) I introduced Tucker to Hobbit the kitty, but they didn't like each other too much, LOL, so we kept them apart the rest of the time. (And I was way more worried for Hobbit than for Tucker ~ that was one sharp beak!) Here is Tucker in the traveling cage I made for him by nailing some dowels inside a cat carrier, also Nov. 1994. (That's Christine beside him.)
Here is Tucker in the new cage we bought him, fall 1994. He LOVED having all that space and being able to stretch out his wings!
Sometimes we let Tucker out of his cage. He really loved this lamp we used to have ~ I think he thought it was a tree! It was his favorite spot to fly to, and would sit on it for hours.
A closeup, spring 1995:
The following 2 photos were taken in Aug. of 1995, after we'd moved to a new apartment. He found the lamp right away:
And also checked out the kitchen cupboards!
September 1995... I gave Tucker a birthday card (with birds on it!), on the anniversary of his adoption. :)
Tucker was always very hand shy, but after a lot of work, George and I were able to get him to trust us enough to let us scratch the top of his head. That was the only contact he ever allowed. This photo of George and Tucker was taken December of 1995:
In April of 1996, Tucker discovered this indoor "window" by our door, and decided that was a good place to sit, too:
Of course, in 1996 Emmalie came along. We were never quite sure if Tucker was jealous of her (and later the boys), but it is true that the kids took up much of the time we used to spend with him. We did make an effort to talk to him every day and let him out of his cage occasionally, give him treats, etc. And, regardless of how he may have felt about them, the kids LOVED Tucker!

Here is Nick in 2000, admiring his feathered friend: And here is Emmalie, also in 2000, giving Tucker a bath with a spray bottle ~ one of his favorite things ever!
Tucker became a "famous" bird in 2002 when pictures of him were published with my article Polly Want a Parrot? in the Aug./Sept. issue of Hopscotch for Girls magazine.
Here is Tucker in 2010, as handsome as ever:
Tucker has been a part of our life, part of our family, for 17 years. It's hard to believe that he is gone, and we already miss him so much.

It is true that sometimes I would get annoyed with him, like when he would start squawking LOUDLY when everyone was still asleep, or when he would flick litter all over the floor after I'd just finished vacuuming, or when he would bite holes in the blanket we put over his cage when we didn't want him to squawk. And I did get mad at him once, when he bit one-year-old Benjamin's finger. (Of course, I was even more mad at myself for not preventing it in the first place.)

Tucker had his quirks... hyperventilating when someone he didn't know well was in the room (he did get a lot better about that over the years, though), squawking each and every time I talked to my friend Karen on the phone (how did he know it was her??), and being suspicious of anything new.

He was scared of the color red, gloves, and towels. He liked to "sing" along whenever we played music. Tucker "talked" to the crows outside and also to our cockatiel Ickie, when he heard her chirping upstairs. He had a special cluck that he used to say hello to us, and another one to beg for treats. He always ate when the rest of us were eating! He loved spaghetti, chicken, scrambled eggs, and peanut butter.

Every February and March, he would do a very loud mating call and dance. Every single day. And not even a blanket over his cage could make him stop that... if we wanted to have a conversation or watch tv or anything like that, we'd just have to wait till he was done to hear anything.

Tucker couldn't talk like some amazons do, but he definitely understood some words. If he was out of his cage and I told him it was time to "go night-night", he knew that meant to go back inside the cage, and he was pretty good about listening to me, too. If he was sitting on his food dish and we wanted to fill it, we just had to say, "Move, please."

He was a silly but lovable bird, and an important part of our family. We all feel his absence deeply. Rest in peace, Tucker-birdie. We love you and will remember you always.


Blogger Jodie said...

What wonderful memories. I'm sad that you're all sad. I know you will really miss him.

March 16, 2011 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sweet tribute!

March 16, 2011 11:26 AM  

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