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Dear Parrots magazine,

In honour of Spike

I am writing this letter in honour of Spike, a very precious parrotlet, and as a warning to others to check the toys and their fixings in their parrots’ cages daily. I have always taken every possible precaution to keep my birds safe, but losing Spike just goes to show, however careful we are, something can still go wrong...

It all started the morning after Valentine's Day. I had been treated to a nice meal out, by my partner, the evening before, and came down to greet the birds in high spirits. Spike came out of his cage, as usual, but I noticed he was fluffed up, quiet and not eating his breakfast. I sensed immediately something was wrong.

I asked him to “step up” and saw a large amount of feathers hanging off his side. On closer inspection, I realised he had no skin left down his left-hand side, from his chest down to his leg. There was no blood, just exposed flesh. I was shocked. He had obviously got caught up on something, and it must have been so painful for him...

On checking his cage, I found the clasp on one of his dangling toys unscrewed, and I think he must have got caught up in that. By flying away he sort of skinned himself down one side, which was just awful!

I gave him a quick hand-feed and immediately took him to the vet. I knew his condition was serious but I had a tiny hope he would recover, like he did when he was a baby. But in the afternoon, I received the dreaded call, he did not survive the anaesthetic. I picked him up after work and settled the bill. He's now buried in the garden and I want to plant a rose bush in his memory, so it will remind me of him and he will brighten my mornings again.

Spike was such a clever little bird, he was a Spectacled Parrotlet and I trained him to come to me on command. Wherever he was in the room, he would recognise his name. People were dumbfounded by his intelligence - he was after all only a tiny five-inch high little parrot.

I miss him most in the mornings, while having breakfast. Both he and my other two pet parrotlets came out of their cages at this time to play. Spike would be with me constantly, perched on my arm while I prepared the fresh foods for all my birds. He would scream at the food processor when it was on and would then sample the food from the bowl. He also loved tasting my muesli or a little piece of toast. He was such a curious and entertaining bird.

In the evening, Spike would sit with me, having his head and neck scratched, while I watched television or he would do a little dance in my hand. When it was time to go to bed, he would fly to the top of the door, and stay there, which meant he wanted to go back next door to his cage to sleep.

When Spike was a baby, I found him bloodied in the nest-box at three weeks of age with a broken leg. Dad was trying to kill the lone chick in the nest. I took him to my vet and he was basically rehabilitated back to good health.

In the beginning, he lived in a small adapted cage as he could not perch properly. I fitted some wooden shelves inside it, and bit by bit he slowly improved. When he was a little older and was able to perch properly he was transferred to a normal cage with perches. Maybe his suffering this handicap so early in his life was the reason why we had such a special bond.

Stefano Salles, email




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