Throughout most of my life I've kept or looked after birds: budgies when I was a child, along with poorly pigeons, broken-winged blackbirds and sparrows; a gap while I was at art college then back into budgies, baby swallows when we moved to France, more budgies - a large family in the end, until some visiting child left the cage open . . .
There then was another pause until Ezra decided he wanted a large reptile. Faced with heating-lights, vast cages, and a near miss with buying an Iguana that we were told would grow to about the size of a large cat, we suggested a larger bird than a budgie: exotic, not quite so expensive to run, and wouldn't involve the horrible thing about having to buy live (crickets mainly) food for the beast to eat.
After much research into Toucans, and discovering that you could not legally purchase one in France, it was agreed that the Christmas present that year would be a small parrot.
'Ananas' was bought from a breeder in Beziers and installed in a rather fine cage, at first in the front room (until I could no longer stand the screeching), and then in Ezra's room. She quickly became his bird and refused to be handled by anyone else; sad as I liked letting her out to soar around the front room while the cat licked his lips.
After several years of her noises blending into the Hothouse soundscape, it is suddenly quiet.
Yesterday, she wasn't quite herself, and today - gone. Just like that: so hard to believe. No more clanking mirror, no more: Hello, pieces of eight, peace (short for pieces of eight), Ezra! and all the bird noises she copied, and the squeaks from around the house, certain door closing-noises and creaky floors.
Gone the ritual of boy hunched in front of computer first thing in the morning with a green-feathered bundle snuggled into his neck and gone the bobbing bird if you put Salsa on.
I suppose I won't miss cleaning up the dried parrot poop, and Mark won't miss finding books with chewed edges, but that's about all, and I know there will be a very large gap left by a small bird in Ezra's life.