Monday, May 9, 2011


tuesday 10 may 2011

Julia, or Juliana, or Yuliana. Her name mutated throughout each day, depending on what I felt like calling her. She ended up being buried in my plot in the community garden. Not my usual practice, but since there were urgent bullyings going on from the landlord -- that was the alchoholic landlord that time -- I wanted Julia safely buried someplace nice before a disaster might occur. I dug up a young iris I had and buried Julia beneath it. That plot was taken away from me two years later by the wisdom of certain turners falls twitidiots who decided that since I'd been sick for three months and hadn't been able to garden, I didn't deserve to have the plot anymore, after six years. Anyway, since a zebra finch, as I've said before, only weighs about an ounce, I'm sure two years were enough time for her compounds to peacefully return to the soil and the air.

Julia was the too-late wife I'd bought for finch Zachary in 2001. By rights she ought to have lived a lot longer than two years (most of my finches did), but birds are prone to various parasites and a host of viral and bacterial infections. Back in the early 90's I found in a used bookstore a copy of Robert Stroud's Diseases of Birds (at least I think that's the title). Stroud was the famous (to certain generations) Bird Man of Alcatraz. A murderer serving a life sentence in the prison at Alcatraz. I'd heard of this man since childhood, and had always been interested in the idea of someone like a murderer wanting to study bird biology while he was in the slammer. By the time I found his long out-of-print book, I was a birdkeeper myself, and decided to buy and read it.

So many possible diseases, and so little time. I'm sure that by the 90's many of the diseases pet birds can contract have been eradicated, and I felt I could dismiss as outdated certain ailments discussed in the book. But there are enough left to give me a fright, and it did.

So which of these ailments took Julia? I don't know. But I carry the remorse for a mistake I made in her treatment that may have precipitated her death, or halted a slow recovery, or both. One important task in treating sick birds is to keep them very warm, and I'd been doing that. Julia was in a little hospital cage with a heating pad under it and a light blanket covering it, vitamins and antibiotic in the water, etc. But on the day in May on which she died, the outdoor temperature had taken a spike upwards, the apartment had got uncomfortably warm, and I was afraid there would be TOO much heat for her, just when she seemed to be making steady, if slow, headway. So before bed I turned off the heating pad, fearing to give her heatstroke, and in the morning she was dead. I know from talking to other finchkeepers, and from some reading, that it's a real crap shoot with these little birds. Some of them live five or six or seven years with not much effort on the human's part, and others die suddenly and young. The hospital techniques save some, and don't save others.

Julia was my last finch. Haven't had another one since her death. If I ever get myself moved out of this ponystall the guinea pig and I now inhabit, I want to have a pair of finches again. I love the chattering they do, and their tiny but energetic bodies. Bodies may be small, but their spirits are large and sweet and fun.

read... Lifelines... All my stars
(photo: enhanced detail from greeting card)

~~~~~~~~~~ website ~~~~~~~~~~~~~


No comments: