The Loss of a Pet: Goodbye Speckles


2003 – 2013

I heard the thud when Speckles fell from her perch to the floor of her cage.  I got up quickly thinking maybe she had hurt her leg or wing.

“Speckles!  Speckles!  What’s wrong girl?”

Then the sound of two screeching noises, her expanded wings started folding inward and her eyes slowly closed.  I turned her over and her little beady eyes closed for the last time and she was gone.  Just like that!  It was as sudden as snapping your fingers or a quick clap of the hands.

In that moment my heart fell.  I had that queasy feeling you get when something has gone wrong.  The first thought was that she hadn’t been acting any different.  I even watched her earlier playing with one of her toys.

I quickly got out the camera and took Speckles’ picture for the last time.  I couldn’t help myself.

I started my Google research on causes of cockatiel’s sudden death.  I found out that I was not the only one who had experienced that happening.  There was no real reason except that Speckles had lived out her years.  It was just one of those things where her little heart needed to rest.

I was teary-eyed knowing I had to say goodbye, but I also knew Speckles was well-loved and well taken care of.

I found a perfect little box that would become her coffin and lined it with yellow tissue to match her plumage.  I went to my backyard with fork and shovel and started preparing Speckles’ final place of rest.  While digging, up came two fat earthworms and I set them aside hoping some other bird would come along and find their evening meal.  I placed Speckles in her yellow, tissue-lined coffin, wrote her name and the date of her death on the outside.

I headed back out to her burial site and had just lowered her little coffin when my husband and daughter came along to say their goodbyes.  My husband covered over the coffin with dirt; I placed a marker at her gravesite and we said our final goodbyes to Speckles.

I know you may think or say “it was only a bird.”  For those of you that have never kept and cared for a pet, it’s easy to think that way.  But, for me, it was a shock.  Immediately, I felt like my memory was on rewind.  I thought Speckles was only in our lives for about 7 years. As it ended up, it had been ten years.

I remembered how she came to be a part of our household.  A friend wanted to get rid of Speckles.  They didn’t even want any payment, they just wanted to be rid of her.  My children, avid pet lovers, especially my daughter who should be an animal rescuer, could not bear the thought of leaving Speckles behind.  Thus, Speckles entered our lives.

Her most outstanding quality was her love for head scratches.  She would allow you to scratch her head all day if you were able and willing.  Sweet bird, but she definitely had the temperament of a female.

She was one of our alarm systems in the house.  Every time my husband drove into the garage, I knew he was home even if I didn’t hear the garage door open.  She would whistle and get excited. As soon as he entered and neared her vision, she was quiet.

I would whistle to her and she would whistle back.  She had her unique cry for her food and her water.  She greeted you each day with that special chirp to make you know you made it to a new day and so did she.

I awoke this morning to a different kind of silence and an empty cage.  I was happy I made it to a new day, but I realized that special morning chirp from Speckles gave me a boost and brightened my awakening.

It doesn’t matter that she was, as some might say, “just a bird.” This was the loss of a pet. She was loved. She was cared for. She will be missed.

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39 Comments on “The Loss of a Pet: Goodbye Speckles”

  1. Shirley McNeil Says:

    I feel your pain. The loss of pet can be a devastating event. I experienced it when I lost my beloved Honey, I cried for months. The thought of her sweet face and the patter of her paws as she ran to greet me everyday , still tugs at my heart.

  2. Charmaine Bather Says:

    Beautiful words. I will surely miss Speckles.

  3. Joan Says:

    So sorry for your loss my sister. Speckles will surely be missed. The loss of a pet is a traumatic experience indeed.

  4. Fred Says:

    Given the intense bond most of us share with our animals, it’s natural to feel devastated by feelings of grief and sadness when a pet dies..

  5. Laura Lyons Says:

    Beautifully written..I can understand your grief in this post ans its very well expressed.The death of pet can indeed hurt as much as the loss of a relative.

  6. Jennifer Says:

    Coping with the loss of an adorable pet like Speckles can be particularly hard for you. Those who live alone may feel a loss of purpose and an immense emptiness. Understanding how you grieve and finding ways to cope with your loss can bring you closer to the day when memories bring smiles instead of tears. 🙂

  7. Carmen Johanson Says:

    I can understand your feelings as I too lost my beloved dog months ago. It’s hard to explain to anyone that didn’t know us together, but she was my everything—she was my every thought, my every breath, my every smile. I feel like my entire world is gone. I know that sounds pretty dramatic and ridiculous, but without her it has felt like a struggle to exist.

    • etbs2011 Says:

      Carmen, trust me I understand what you are feeling. I have dogs too can only imagine what I’ll be going through if something happens to them. I have children too and my dogs are like my toddlers.

  8. Nayeem Says:

    Pets are anchors in our lives. They provide nurturing and unconditional love, love that we don’t even always receive from other people..
    We all will miss Speckles!!

  9. Kirsten Says:

    Your post is so sad, I feel your pain. I am sure you gave Speckles a good life. Hang in there, time will heal and I believe in animals spirits. 🙂

  10. Charles Says:

    My female cockatiel passed away yesterday,in pretty much the same way,she was outside of her cage,she always had run of the house,she had been playing,she ate,played some more,then snuggled on my jersey I had folded on a wicker dresser,her favorite place,I was on the computer,and I heard a thud,and she lay just below the shelf where she was on my jersey,I quickly picked her up,she moved her little head and started closing her eyes,I cried and called her name,Baby Fwail,she opened them and then closed them one last time,January 3rd,2014 will forever be in my memory, she passed at about 3:30 in the afternoon,she lost her water on my shirt and then where she had fallen on the floor.Heartbroken is a mild description of what I feel,she was almost eight years old,and spent that time with my son and I,we got her when she was six weeks old,she used to sleep under my chin at night,since I am a light sleeper and do not move about in my sleep she was comfortable with that.It is like losing one of your own children,it just devastates you. RIP my little Baby Fwail,my best little friend,and my little girl.

    • etbs2011 Says:

      OMG Charles! I’m so sorry to hear this and it just brought back that day in May. I can truly say I know how you feel. Please accept my deepest understanding and condolences. Give your daughter a hug from me too.

      • Thank you so much,our Little Baby Fwail was definitely unique,she would hear me open up a box of cereal she would fly over and land on my shoulder,she loved frosted flakes,popcorn plain,potato chips,she would also stand on the edge of a glass and drink orange crush or ice tea,I used to have to keep her out of my coffee,my son is totally crushed as well,she bonded with the two of us,but mostly with me since he works a lot and goes to college,I’m retired,so her and I were forever together,I always left her cage open so she could come and go,and would only put her in it,when I had to leave the house to go shopping. When she was about one year old,she actually got out of the house,flew around the neighborhood which is full of Hawks and other birds of prey,she came back by landing on my son,we took her inside,and she didn’t eat for two days,it really scared her,needless to say,that never happened again.She was well loved,and cared for, I know that it will take a while to recover,but I will never forget my little baby,and will always love her,the tears are falling,I have to go for now.

      • etbs2011 Says:

        I’m so happy you could share your feelings with me. The feelings you are having is normal. She was a part of your family and life. I kept Speckles feathers for my keepsake from her. Please know you are not alone in your grief.

  11. Ros Riggall Says:

    I lost my male cockatiel named Honeuy last night. I had given him to my Mum about 12 years ago after the passing of my Dad. He was her companion and she taught him so much. He could whistle “popeye the sailor man, Pop goes the weasel, Jesus loves me, Cuckoo and many others. He talked saying his name I’m Honey K…., , , god morning honey, Kisses and even sang jingle bells” All this in my mother’s voice. She passed away from breast cancer about 5 years ago, but I felt like I still had a part of her in Honey. He used to be the early warning if the garbo was on the way, or if somene was coming down the stairs or to the front door. My watchbird didn’t miss anything. Each day when I got my tablets ready he would be there wuith his little chrip and tap dance he always did with that particular noise. Last week I thought I was going to lose him..he fell from his perch in the middle of the night and I though he had broken a leg or wing the way he was acting. I held him all night (which was very unusal) he didn’t like to be touched.I retuned him to his cage and mad an appointment o see the vet, but after a few mre hours, he chirped and climbed back to his favourite perch, had a drink and something to eat and was quiet but fine. I phoned the et and they said probably a bad uimmy ache from the grape he ha eaten in one go last night. He’d been fine for a week and last nuight collasped off the perch again. i went to the cage and took him out and he sqeeked, closed his lttle eyes and was gone. I feel like I’ve lost a huge part of my Mum all over again and can’t seem to get a hold on my tears. The house is so quiet now and I am so completely devastated. No one seems to understand. People keep saying he had to go sometime. He had 12 years with this family. It is nice to know that others feel the same way I do about the grief I feel for this very special little guy. Reading other’s stories helps a little, but it’s so fresh I just can’t stop crying. How do you cope?

    • etbs2011 Says:

      Ros I can only imagine how you are feeling. I remember my memories were on rewind after I lost Speckles. The way you are feeling is normal. No one knows how they will grieve but a pet becomes such a part of our lives, it feels as though you’ve lost one of your best friends. Know that Honey will always be in your heart and your memory. You’ll never forget the joy that he brought to your life. Let that joy bring a smile to your face as the days go by. In time, you’ll be able to open your heart to another pet (hopefully another bird) and you’ll experience a new kinda joy and happiness all over again. But Honey will always be that special bird to you. Know too that as each day goes by you’ll grieve a little less. But know that you have others who understand how you feel, I’m one of them.

  12. Mary Says:

    My husband woke up Valentines Day morning to uncover our sweet bird of 17 years. He went to make his lunch as he does every weekday morning but she didn’t make any sounds. He looked back to find she was on the bottom on the cage. There was no signs of illness and she was happy and active until that day. The comments with the loving to have her head pet and the wonderful alarm system sounds just like our bird. Yes, a definite part of the family that will be so very much missed. I understand how all of you feel. We kept wonderful care of her and I would have loved to see her last longer. My husband is taking it even harder than me as he undercovered her and spoke to her everytime he walked by the cage. The kids are gone and now we really have an empty nest. She truly brightened every day and it is a loss.

    • etbs2011 Says:

      Mary, I’m so sorry for your loss. Every time I hear about the loss of another pet cockatiel, my eyes fill with tears. I know how it feels because it seems to happen so suddenly with no prior warning that something might be wrong. I hope you have lots of pictures. I kept a few feathers for the memories. Please know you are not alone in this experience and I hope each day will find you and your husband feeling better.

  13. Kimerle Viccaro Says:

    Two weeks ago today, I awoke and uncovered my sweet little Cockatiel Buddy. He was not as usual on his high perch but sitting on his low perch all fluffed up. I took him out and he lay against my chest while I fixed his breakfast. He couldn’t perch. I knew something was wrong so I sat in my recliner with him as we usually do every morning but this morning he couldn’t play with his toys. I took him upstairs, it was only 7:40 am and I knew I had to rush and get dressed and take him to the emergency vet which was 40 minutes away. I put him in his travel cage so I could get dressed but he flopped on his back with his wings out. I ran over and held him in my hand and he was alive then in a second he was gone. I couldn’t belle ive he was gone. Yesterday he was fine, he sat on my lap and shared a little bit of peanut butter sandwich. He usually loved crunchy peanut butter but this time he only took a few nibbles. And before his bed time he was very quiet and I had commented to my husband that Buddy seemed so quiet. If I had realized then he didn’t feel good we could have taken him to the emergency vet and they could have saved him. The next morning when I found him fluffed up in his cage. It was too late. There was not enough time to get him to the vet because he died so quickly. I am heartbroken. I feel so sad. Buddy depended on me and I failed to realize he needed vet care until it was too late. I miss my sweet little Buddy so much. I wonder if life is even worth living if the pets you love so much die losing Buddy so suddenly wis one of the hardest losses for me. I didn’t get to say good bye or that I loved him so much.

    • etbs2011 Says:

      Kimerle, I feel your loss. I know how suddenly a cockatiel can depart from us. But I can tell that you were a caring, conscientious and loving owner for Buddy. Please know and believe that you were a great owner to Buddy and that while you had it in your power, you did the best for your bird. I hope you have lots of pictures so that his memory will live on in your heart and memories. I know as time passes, that all the love you have inside of you will somehow allow you to give your love to another bird and know that it will only be an extension of Buddy. Be cheered knowing you are being thought about.

      • Kimerle Viccaro Says:

        Thank you, I don’t have anybody that understands what a three ounce little bird meant to me. There is an ache that I can’t fix. It helps to know other bird parents understand.

    • Tina Says:

      I lost my Charlie yesterday morning. And I can’t stop crying! He was so little & he picked me! I was all he ever wanted. He was my daughters bird, but he picked me, he called for me, he whistled for me, he looked for me! If someone got him out of his cage, he flew away from them, calling loudly & flying to find me! He would just look at me with hearts coming out of his eyes. He loved me! & now he passed & we don’t know why, & I can’t hardly take it. He was so little!!, and I wasn’t there when whatever happened! I’m so so sad, I’ll never hear him calling for me or answer me when I called out his name. Or being mean to his bell. I loved him way more than I knew. My little Charley was definitely family. And my heart is broke!. :’+(

      • etbs2011 Says:

        Tina, sorry to hear about Charlie. It definitely hurts when you lose your pet. But know that you did your best for Charlie and gave him loving care, that’s why he loved you so much. Keep the memories of all he did and how he made you feel ever close. Let them keep a smile on your face and get you through your challenging times.

  14. Lindsey Says:

    I stumbled upon your blog while I was searching for explanations for sudden cockatiel death. We had our Haunzie for 13 years and my husband came home last night to find him on the bottom of his cage. He was perfectly fine when we left for the day. I feel so much guilt not knowing if there was something we could have done. People that don’t have birds don’t necessarily understand the bond. We have dogs and a cat that are like our children, but Haunzie was also special to us. He was such a character and could sing cell phone tunes, meow like our cat, imitate coughing, played hide and seek, say “Birdie birdie birdie”, and was an alarm system anytime someone walked in the door. The house is so quiet without him and his empty cage breaks my heart. Haunzie was happy and lived a good, spoiled life. Thank you for sharing your story, it was so touching.

    • etbs2011 Says:

      Hi Lindsey, Thank you for sharing your story of Haunzie. As bird owners, I agree, we are unique in our attachment to our birds. They definitely have characters of their own. They creep into our hearts and then we miss them when they are gone. Take care.

  15. Joanna Says:

    My sweet Tina passed yesterday afternoon. She was fine in the morning. In fact she just wanted to kiss and demanded head scratching. She was my sweet-feisty tiel. Just seconds before I heard the load thud she was drinking water and was looking at me. She too showed no signs of illness. I quickly picked her up and she died shortly after. My heart is heavy and I can’t stop crying. I am still in denial that she is buried outside in the garden. It breaks my heart to see my other three tiels looking for her in her box and then looking over at favorite lil playground.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • etbs2011 Says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m sorry to hear about Tina. I’m so happy that sharing the loss of Speckles have helped so many others. I truly feel your pain and hope as the days go by that you’ll feel better. Take care.

  16. Ray Feekery Says:

    I lost my pretty boy Treeco yesterday,we had him 11 beautiful years,he was a huge part of our lives and really completed our family circle.He used to say”pretty boy”and”give us a kiss”,he also used to lift his claw open and close it and say”friend” also dance with us and tap his cage with his beak to the beat of music we are playing and he used to whistle a different tune everytime you repeated his last tune.We are still crying and wondering why he died so suddenly in my hands l tried in vein to save him but to no avail only to watch his little eyes close, so your post makes a lot sense and puts our hearts to rest.We can feel your pain and our sympathies go out to you and your loving family as we to will bury our pretty boy today under our oak tree across the field near our home.

    • etbs2011 Says:

      Ray and family, I’m so sorry that you had to feel and endure the loss of your precious Treeco. I’m happy though knowing that you found comfort from what I shared, what seems like just yesterday. I still miss Speckles so much. But know that the memories will always live on and you’ll hear Treeco’s melodies and whistles playing in your head as the days go by. I hope they will bring joy to your heart and make the loss a little better to bear. Take care.

  17. I lost “Birdie” when I came home yesterday and found him face down at the bottom of the cage. His wings seemed to be spread and his eyes were open. He was 15 years old and showed no signs of being sick. He ate all his crispies in the morning and he seemed fine. I’m just so sorry I wasn’t there for him. I had given him to my Mom in 2004 and she had him up until she passed in 2008. Then I took him, he seemed to always want me around him. Last year early in the morning out of the blue he started saying…I need a cigarette…cigarette…cigarette. I knew he had been listening to Mom when she was alive and was imitating her. That made me smile. Now I feel like I have lost her all over again and can’t stop crying. Birdie used to yell to me when it was time to go to bed. So I would place his cage close by and he would be happy. Then in the morning I would place it back in the living room. He never let me get too close although I used to put my hand out and he would hop on. That’s the closest he got. He seemed to be very nervous yet I used to talk to him all the time and he would whistle and yell to me. He seemed to always alert me of things such as a fire engine coming (even before I could hear it), a kettle boiling or the phone ringing. He was like a guard dog. Last night the house was so quiet and I can’t stop getting choked up and crying. I’ll have to bury him tomorrow and I’m going to be a mess. Thank you for listening.

    • Hi Melanie:

      It always breaks my heart all over again when someone shares the loss of their precious cockatiel. For you it was Birdie and I’m so sorry you had to experience that loss. I can assure you that the many memories you have stored up about Birdie will forever bring a smile to your face. Thanks for sharing your story and I hope as the days go by you’ll feel lighter and better. Accept my warm hug.

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