Thursday, November 01, 2007

We set him free

Today we set Henry free. I love this bird and will miss him dearly.

He's a large parakeet that we bought, along w/ his partner Fonda, back some 2 1/2 yrs ago. The girl that was working for us let Fonda go about 1 1/2 yrs ago (I blogged about the whole thing if you're interested a while back), and ever since then, Henry just hasn't been the same. There was a sadness in his eyes and for anyone that's been reading my blog for any length of time knows that I was really worried about him in the beginning - after she was let out - because he really loved her.

It's been since then that I've wanted to set him free, but had major doubts about it... for fear he wouldn't be able to fly, the stray cats would kill him or he'd die of hunger. I have no idea how long he was a caged bird before we got him, so I had no idea what he was capable of. I know Fonda either flew off or was killed. I've thought, on several occasions, that I've heard her outside and thought I even saw her once in the tree across the street, but I'm not sure. I know on those occasions Henry went crazy calling to that bird... so I do hope it was Fonda.

It all happened this morning. Me and Naief were downstairs - he was in his walker and I had just picked him up when I looked out the back door and saw about 3 birds standing on the bird's cages. We have them outside now since the weather has gotten so nice. Seeing that I had just fed the birds, I sorta freaked out in thinking that they had gotten out somehow... but then I realized that these were wild birds that came down to have a look. Well, all of our birds went crazy w/ excitement, especially Henry.

It was at this moment that I decided that Henry could survive if these birds were surviving and I wanted to let him go. Hashim had just run out to get some Panadol for me and diapers for the baby, so he saw all the parakeets on the cage outside. Before he left for work, he opened Henry's cage door.

I stood inside waiting to see what was going to happen. It wasn't but two or three minutes and Henry was climbing outta of his cage. He stretched his wings, flapped them like crazy and took off... but he didn't go far... only down to the tile. I freaked. Tigger, the outside cat, was out there and I knew if I didn't get out there fast, he'd kill Henry.

Here comes Tigger and he makes an instant leap towards Henry.

I ran out the door and yelled at Tigger to go away. Henry flew over to the shelves we have outside - onto the bottom shelf - and stood there. Tigger came around the back and again I had to scream to make him leave. I knew that if I didn't get Henry up off the ground, he'd get killed for sure. Henry flew over to where the cages are and sat there. I immediately went over there, leaned down and put my arm for him. Shockingly, Henry climbed onto my arm and I lifted him up to the cage. That's the first time that he's ever let me pick him up... we used to let him and Fonda fly around our TV room when we had both of them and he'd never come to me.

Well... he was back onto the top of his cage. I picked up Naief and stood outside, sweet talking him and trying to get him to go back inside. There were a couple of times that I thought for sure that he was going to, but he didn't. So I took Naief inside and stood at the door in hopes that he'd go inside his cage. But what did he do???

He flew off in the direction of the empty parking lot next to our house. I ran into the other room, threw on another top, grabbed a big towel and ran outside. I knew I'd have to throw the towel over Henry to get him back inside. But when I got out there, he was nowhere to be found. I looked under every car, up to the apts but there was nothing. I didn't even hear him.

So... I went back to the house, stood by the door and called out to him. Still nothing. After feeding Naief, I heard a call that sounded just like Henry. Me and Naief go out and after making our way to the front of the house to look in all the trees and to make sure he didn't land in the front yard, I look in the trees in the front of the house next to us and then walk back around to the side of the house. It was at this point that I saw Henry up in the tree by my FILs house - the tree right in front of our house.

I called to him and he squawked several times but wouldn't come.

I gave the baby to Salumi and asked her to hold him and after opening the garage door, I called to him - hoping he'd come back down to the cage. As I stood there and talked to him, he moved over on the branch he was perched on and then flew right down in front of me, as if to say goodbye, and then off towards the apts down from us, and he was gone. That was the last I saw of him.

I started crying from a rush of emotions. I was so happy to see him flying, happy that he wasn't afraid and happy that he was free, but I was sad too because I love him so much and am terribly sad to see him go....

Well... this afternoon at around 4, I went outside because I thought I heard him. For any of you wondering, he's a different type of parakeet than the others and has a different call... so I knew when I heard it that it was him. I went out to the front yard, looked up in the trees across the street, up to the apts and then started walking around the house and there he was. He was in the tree across the street.

I called to him and he called back to me. Henry can talk... he can say things like "good boy", "hey Oprah", "pretty bird" and make cat sounds.... so another fear is that someone will hear him and he'll be caught and put back into the bird market here... but I really hope not.

Anyway... after standing out there and talking to him for a bit, I went to get Hashim. He came out and saw him and we both smiled. It was if Henry had come to show me that he's a big boy and can fly....

Hashim went to get a ladder and put some food on top of the neighbor's garage that backs up to our house - it's high up and I don't think any cats will get up there. We also put some water. When I looked out our bathroom window this afternoon, the big dried red pepper that I put on the food was gone... maybe the wind took it, but I hope not.

Henry flew off again and is perching some place for the night. Tomorrow I hope he finds some friends and is able to fly off w/ others like him or some of these smaller parakeets - if they'll accept him. He's a sweet boy. He never tried to bite me and would take food right from my fingers.... and there was a time that he'd talk/mumble in this low voice like he was speaking to me.... I'll never forget him.

I hope he stays free for the rest of his life and lives a happy life. Today in the tree he was preening his feathers, stretching out his wings and seemed so happy. I'm really glad I got to see that..... and I'm glad he came back to say hello. Maybe, if I'm lucky, he'll find a mate and stay in this area.

Farewell Henry...


Olivia said...

Are there birds native to Bahrain or do they only live in the green irrigated or inhabited areas? It just seems so hot and deserty!

Having lost a few birds to the wild, and many to old age, I understand your emotions. Those parrot-like birds suffer so much when they lose a partner, and it's so hard to see them grieve. I hope he is discovered by the rest of the flock and adopted, so that he can be with friends.

Olivia said...

Oh! By the way, I tagged you. Tag!

Puppy said...

Very emotional and good post.

Henry will be just fine, his instincts will wake up and he will take care of himself.

Best wishes.


Um Naief said...

olivia, they're brought in or smuggled, i should say, into bahrain. these are from india, i think. i've not seen another bird like him, except for fonda. i do so hope that she's still alive and waiting for him. i really, really hope for this. if not, i really hope that these smaller ones accept him. i know stedman, another male we have, doesn't like him. i just hope it's stedman and not all like him.

puppy, my day was so emotional. i cried to my sister on the phone and to hashim... it touched my heart and still does. i think you're right or pray you are... i really hope his instincts take over, or he watches others and learns from them. :) i hope all is well w/ you my dear.

Jane said...

Good for you. I have very strong beliefs regarding birds. I do not believe they are meant to be kept as pets and have taught my children so. I tell my son that if birds weren't meant to fly freely then they wouldn't have wings. I really think they are one of the luckiest creatures on earth to be able to fly. It is cruel to keep them in cages and indoors. It is against their nature. Needless to say we will never have birds as pets in my home as long as I am alive.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

What a good story. I agree with Jane. Birds are not meant to be caged but it is a hard decision to let the bird go because you wonder if he/she can survive after such a 'caged' life. It sounds good that he is staying in the nearby trees though.
I heard a story about dolphins the other day. They are taking them from near the Solomon Islands to Dubai I heard. Again I do not think that dolphins should be captured.

The Moody Minstrel said...

That was obviously a very hard thing to do, but I admire you for having the strength to pull it off! At the same time, I'm glad you're being savvy enough to keep an eye out to make sure Henry is doing okay. (I say that because there are so many people who think simply releasing a caged animal means everything is alright...until the animal winds up falling victim to its lack of experience in the "wild".) I'm sure it's quite a hard transition for Henry, as well...especially now that he knows what he has been taking for granted all this time!

Anyway, good post, and thanks for sharing!

Why do I hear Sting singing all of a sudden?

Um Naief said...

jane, you know, i never had caged birds before now, and, looking back, i'd never do it again. we have three now, and i'm seriously considering letting the other lone male go. i want to see if he can fly though, and he's the same species as these others around here... and then the other two, well... satiya, the girl we had a while back that was messing up my life did something to the female and she can't fly any more and seems like something happened to her brain.

i will teach my son not to keep caged birds and to love birds in the wild. i agree in what you say that birds are meant to fly free. i like how you put it "if birds weren't meant to fly then God wouldn't have given them wings!"

wendy, i read about these same dolphins going to dubai. dubai probably has some type of caged area in their waters where they're gonna allow ppl to swim w/ them or something... or use them for a water park. they're building like crazy there and are determined to be the most popular place in the world... even if it means doing such things against nature.

moody, i worry about henry for exactly all the reasons you talk about. i've been looking for him for the last couple of days but haven't seen him. the food i put out hasn't been touched. today i thought i heard him in the distance but never saw him. i do hope he's finding food and water. and i pray that if he gets hungry, he comes back here... i just hope.

Christopher said...

Looking at that photo of your former bird, reminds me of when I lived in San Francisco.

In a section of the city called "Telegraph Hill", there happens to be a wild flock of parrots that have made that section of the city their home. In addition to the myriad of wonderful and crazy things, that can only be attributed to San Francisco, these birds in of themselves are a legend. There are of course many stories about how the birds got there, as there obviously had been a few at one time who were a "domestic" pet, and then released into the city, they provide a sight (or sound?) that could only add to the lush local colour that is San Francisco. It is highly amusing to hear them up in the trees with their various "conversations" and of course their mimics of various ringers on cell phones. There is a wonderful documentary called "The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill" that is so interesting, perhaps you might find it fun. Hopefully your bird will find a mate of it's liking and you will have your own flock of wild parrots to provide you with entertainment, to offset the hairstyles you might suffer when they shit carelessly into the middle eastern air.

sending you love and kisses and hope you are doing well. Just online a blogging today and as usual, loving your writing.

The western holidays are coming up, have you got anything exciting in mind?

xoxoxo Kissy

Gazza said...

If other birds like him survive in the wild i cant see why he cant,if it was in England he wouldent survive the winter.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Um Naief!

How beautifully and evocatively you write! Thank you for telling us about Henry, I got all emotional while reading it and found myself rooting for him along with you. I hope he is able to join a flock parakeets and has a happy life as a free bird.

When I lived in Dubai we had a family of parakeets that would visit one of the trees in our garden from time to time. To see them all together like that is always such a pretty (but noisy) sight!

Olivia said...

Hey I wonder if we can see that documentary about the parrots of Telegraph Hill online....

Um Naief said...

lotus reads, they fly in flocks here as well.. the smaller variety does... so i'm hoping that fonda, his made, is still alive and he'll be able to find her. i thought i heard him yesterday... i hope. :) i'm glad you like my blog.

olivia, i wonder... i think i'll try to look it up. i'll let you know if i find anything.