Christmas morning we drove out on a one-night trip to Massachusetts to visit Pam's mother. There's a pet store near us which we've patronized for ten years where we bring our two cockatiels for boarding when we're out of town, so that we know they'll be warm and fed.
Last night, after calling the store, we drove home and went over to pick them up, and the first thing I noticed when I looked at their cage up on a high shelf was that I couldn't see either of them. Had they gotten out and flown away? But then I saw a head pop up from the lower part of the cage and I thought they were just playing on the floor. Instead, we found BB (the one on the left here) slumped on the grill, dead, and Pearl had been standing by her. The pet store worker told us that when we'd called twenty minutes earlier, she'd looked and they both looked fine standing up on their perch.
BB was twelve or thirteen years old, near as we can figure, not very old for a bird of this type in fact. As you can see, she had that patchy "pied" color pattern quite different from the normal grey cockatiel hen. She'd gotten her name from her little two-note cry with a rising intonation, which sounded to us like "BB? BB?" She was not a hand-fed bird and so was always a bit nervous around us, unlike Pearl, though we came to an arrangement over time where we could pick her up without too much struggle to pet her, and she would never, ever bite.
We called the largest vet clinic here last night to find out what to do to find out whether there might have been some kind of illness present which would put Pearl at jeopardy, but they told us that they do not do pet necropsies themselves, referring people to Cornell if such is required. She seems to be fairly healthy, though she was unusually hungry when we got her home, ravenous, really, making us wonder whether they might have been deprived at the pet store, though it seems nearly as likely that she might have succumbed to a bad fall somehow. We had other reasons to believe that the account given by the pet store was accurate and that it had happened only a very short time earlier, but everything is based on circumstantial evidence.
I checked on Pearl this morning and she seems to be okay. It makes me sad to see her all by herself there, even though the two of them had not been best buddies or anything like that, because I know they are very social creatures. My wife is upset and unhappy too because of a sort of history of Bad Things having happened the week between Christmas and New Years Day.
I'll be going out to lay BB to rest in a spot in the garden later this morning. BB was a wonderful, sweet pet to have had these ten years, and it's a hollow kind of loss we feel.