Don & I lost Wicket this past week. Variously known as Wicket, The Wick, Wick-Wick, or just plain Wick, he came to us several years ago. A Blue-Fronted Amazon, he was a handsome guy; bright green, with yellow and turquoise on his forehead, and red on the tip of his (useless) wings.
Wicket came into our lives through a pet sitter we used; she was aware of a family who’d essentially had Wicket dropped off on their doorstep by a relative who no longer wanted him. The family was young, with an energetic baby and at least one dog; they didn’t need the complications of a parrot. They were giving him away, complete with cage. We went to see him.
Our first indication that something was amiss was when they asked if we’d like to take Wicket outside. By that time we’d had Sam, our Congo African Grey, for a couple of years, and we knew it was quite dangerous to take a bird outside without having the bird’s wing’s clipped. I asked if Wicket’s wings had been clipped, and the owner said no. We declined the outdoor visit.
After we got Wicket to his new home, we quickly noticed he was wholly unable to fly. More distressingly, when he fell, he fell like a potato. We were educated enough parrot owners to know that when clipping a bird’s wings, one must make sure not to clip too close, because the bird should also be able to make a soft, gliding landing in case of a fall. Wicket couldn’t. We made an appointment to see Dr. Mike Taylor, an Avian vet at the University of Guelph. Dr. Taylor examined Wicket, and told us that at some point, Wicket had sustained 2 broken wings that would forever remain broken and useless for flight.
A couple of broken wings, though, didn’t keep Wicket on the
floor of his cage. Like all parrots, he scooted around his cage
using his feet and his beak. He was most comfortable perched rather high up, taking in the sights of the household.
With Wicket and Don, I think it was love at first sight. Wicket adored Don, and, as a corollary, was not fond of me, as I was competition. He would let Don pick him up, stroke him, hold him upside down. He was gentle with Don – rarely did his beak pierce Don’s skin. If on the floor, he’d waddle over to Don, and actually climb up his pants’ leg. On the other hand, if I was holding Wicket, I had to make sure he was extended from me, because he would try to bite me. Weekly parrot showers always had Wicket paired with his main squeeze, Don.
Wick had his peccadilloes. While he was brave – much braver than Sam – he was extremely frightened of vacuum cleaners (which was the main reason I’d hold him – if Don was vacuuming). He was a much pickier eater than Sam, except when it came to wood products. He destroyed hand-built ladders that Don made for him, as well as countless perches. We never minded, though – all that chewing was good for his beak.
He was generally friendly to all but me. Don was always willing to take Wicket places, especially to teach young ones about amazing parrots. Wicket went to school with Don, and even to church, where Don & Wicket put on a great demo for the children in front of the whole congregation.
“Careful” was Wicket’s favourite word, and you could count on him for a “hello” whenever the phone rang, or when someone was calling out. He also picked up “okay”, likely from hearing one side of phone conversations where that phrase was repeated. He’d also say “Wick-Wick.” While he never had the talking skills of Sam, he was quick to mimic human speech cadence. He and Don had a routine that was fun to watch: Don would pretend to yell at Wicket, and Wicket would give it back to Don, syllable for syllable, all of which was nonsensical.
Don awakened Wednesday morning to find Wicket on his back at the bottom of his cage. Don picked him up gently, tried to get him to perch or at least stand. Don knew immediately that whatever had happened would likely lead to Wicket’s death. He held him, stroked him, then placed him back in his cage. Within moments, Wicket expired. We don’t know what happened. Might he have fallen overnight, and broken his neck? We’ll never know, other than his departure was sudden and not expected.
But Wicket waited for Don to come to him. I’m glad they had their goodbyes until they meet again at the Rainbow Bridge.