An ode to a feathery friend

Canadian Living

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His name is Panchoe – with an e!
By Diana Faria

It’s hard to put in words what this energetic peach-faced lovebird means to me without sounding like a squawking lunatic (pun intended). Panchoe has been with my family for the past fifteen years and despite all other pets (including fish, dogs and other birds), he is definitely the most interesting.

The two of us have bonded more in the past five to six years than we ever did when I was younger – probably because I didn’t think it possible to love such a tiny creature so much. And every passing year reminds me of how deeply he has rooted himself into my life.

Like all birds, Panchoe loves to roam free of his cage around the house, but his age and recently weakened grip has made him more dependent on us than ever before. When he was younger, he would perch on my dad’s shoulder during spring trips to Home Depot, gathering “ooohs” and “aahs” from wide-eyed children and parents alike. Looking back, we didn’t need to clip his wings – he never tried to fly away from us anyway.

These days, however, we need to carry him in our hands simply to get up the stairs, lest his weak feet slide off our shoulder. This sounds like such sad news because he’s getting older and weaker, but to me, it’s just another opportunity to create a closer bond with my beloved little birdie.

But don’t let his age fool you – Panchoe is an energetic little fella. Calling his name when I come home in the afternoon will earn me very loud and happy chirps. The one thing age hasn’t taken away from him is his voice – he can still make my eardrums ring with his famous triple chirp if he is close enough.

In the past few years, he has also grown fond of personally punching holes into papers around my room. He becomes so excited when he does this, that he catapults himself from my shoulder to my bed, proclaiming his successful landing with high-pitched singing. And yes, before you ask, I have used the “my bird ate my homework” excuse. It doesn’t work as well as the dog one, but at least it gets more laughs…and an “F” grade. But, we’ll skip over that part.

Photo courtesy of Diana Faria
Photo courtesy of Diana Faria

He also has his lovable moments — these are the ones I’ll remember the most. Arguably the sweetest ones are when he nestles beside my neck, veiled by the warmth of my hair, and makes little purring noises when I call his name. As if to let me know he’s awake and alert, he’ll nibble on a strand of hair once in a while.

This old-timer also loves to be petted. Much like a cat, he will sit on the keys of my laptop (sometimes even on my hand) and nudge his head against my fingers, as if begging to be cuddled. If I don’t give him the head-turning, feather-poofing massage he wants, he’ll do it himself by rubbing his beak and head against my knuckles. With all his cuddles and purrs, I swear this little guy has the heart and soul of a feline…minus the attitude and stern glares. Hopefully he has their nine lives too.

When Panchoe takes his final flight, the memories of him and life lessons will remain with me forever. His brave efforts when he tries to jump to my bed or fly, despite his weak wings, taught me to always go after what you want – to shoot for the stars. Even if you fail, at least you’ll know you tried.

But most of all, he has taught me the value of love on more levels than anyone can imagine. All this little bird wants to do at the end of the day is spend time with someone who can love him and make him happy. That alone puts everything into perspective and acts as a reminder that I should always strive for personal happiness in my own life, wherever that happiness may come from.

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