I got Spock when I was 12 years old. I desperately wanted someone to be my very own (we had a family cat) and I somehow came to the idea of getting a cockatiel. I scrimped and saved my pocket money until I had enough for a bird and what a bird needs. I went to the pet shop and looked at the birds, and there was a handsome 6 week old pearly cockatiel that I loved. They had pre-trained cockatiels, but I was dead set on training my own, so Spock was a rather spirited young man. But I persevered at home with him and I ended up with a bird that was... kind of trained. He certainly wasn't shy of the odd nip! Though he would stand on my finger (sometimes after a nibble) and sit on my shoulder and let me pat his little head. We also taught him how to wolf whistle, sing a few songs (he merged them all into one super awesome Spock mega-mix) and to say 'Hello' and, on occasion, 'My name is Spock.'
Spock stayed home in Brisbane while I was studying my first degree in Wagga Wagga, but after I moved to Sydney for vet school he flew on a plane down to come and live with me, Dim Sim and Gizmo. He was able to come out and sit on my shoulder and walk around without any grief from those two (always under strict supervision, of course!), but once I got Sahara that had to change. Sahara is a natural hunter, and one of her first activities when she got home was to jump up on his cage and bring everything down! So he didn't get out very much anymore while she was around. With less coming out, he became less willing to be handled, but still enjoyed being whistled to. I tried to buy him toys, but he mostly refused them, except for the mirror I bought him a few years ago. He loved looking at himself in that mirror.
He escaped and flew away once while I was in Sydney. He was out overnight, and I spent the entire afternoon and following morning putting up posters around the neighbourhood and doing letterbox drops. Miraculously, I got a call from someone to say that had found him in their yard. They had three cats and two dogs, but thankfully were home off work that day and noticed him sitting there, looking rather confused.
My feelings about having Spock were somewhat complex. Obviously in my journey from a 12 year old to a 33 year old vegan and animal rights advocate, keeping a bird caged began to not sit well, especially in a house with cats which further limited his ability to be out and about. But done is done, so I tried my best. With work and my pre-occupation with the cats, I know it wasn't enough. I have a lot of guilt over much of his life.
Last week Spock turned 21 years old. Apparently that is quite impressive in cockatiel circles. Yesterday morning I said goodbye to him before I went to work, he was sitting in front of his mirror looking a little hunched, but nothing too out of the ordinary. I came home from work and was getting dinner started, and my mum went to close the blinds on his window and found that he had passed away. I hate that we didn't know, that he was on his own when he went. I hope he wasn't scared. I hope it was peaceful.
Here are some photos of this little man. You will note in the first one, taken back in 1994, he looks very different. That was when he had his pearly markings, turns out that they often change to regular grey after a year or two! But I didn't mind.
The last photo was taken just last week, on his 21st birthday.
There will be no more birds for me, and I will be donating his cage to a wildlife rescue for temporary housing of rescued birds. I know it was not an ideal life, but he seemed to find joy in many things and I hope that was the case. He can now fly free in little bird heaven. Goodbye my handsome little one.