Our fine feathered companions
Like in the movie Born Free (1968), most of our pet birds were free from the moment they hatched.
Clockwise from top left: Kate; Duke as a hatchling; Daisy feeding Duke & Kate; Oliver feeding Pavarotti, Handsome, Precious, and Lucci; and the latter four just after they fledged. Roll mouse over that montage to see the canaries which departed prior to 2011: Goldie, Princess, George, Lucy, Luciano, and Olive.
Like in the movie Born Free (1968), most of our pet birds were free from the moment they hatched.
Princess & George
(a budgerigar given to us)
Oliver & Daisy
|2010||.||.||Princess @||Luciano @||Lucy @||Olive @||Oliver||(shifted to left column)
< < < <
|2012||Oliver||Daisy||Pavarotti||Handsome||Duke @||Precious||Lucci @||Kate||Zorro||Little Oliver||Peewee||Katie||Sunflower|
|2013||Oliver||Daisy @||Pavarotti||Handsome||.||Precious||.||Kate @||Zorro||Little Oliver||Peewee||Katie||Sunflower|
|2015||Oliver @||.||Pavarotti||Handsome||.||Precious||.||.||Zorro @||Little Oliver||Peewee||Katie||Sunflower @|
|2016||.||.||Pavarotti||Handsome||.||Precious @||.||.||.||Little Oliver||Peewee||Katie||.||Zoe|
|2017||.||.||Pavarotti||Handsome||.||.||.||.||.||Little Oliver||Peewee||Katie @||.||Zoe|
|2018||.||.||Pavarotti||Handsome||.||.||.||.||.||Little Oliver @||Peewee @||.||.||Zoe|
|2020||.||.||Pavarotti @||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||Zoe @|
NOTES: @ = died during the year.
All the canaries from 2011 and 2012 were born (hatched) during the year.
All are/were Canaries, except Tweety, who was a Budgerigar ("parakeet") of unknown gender whom we adopted from relatives, in hopes of restoring its health. It didn't work out.
Adopted in June 2000 after she flew into a relative's apartment, evidently a stray. She had a misshapen beak, as the lower half was twisted and virtually useless for chewing, and did not even have a right foot. Sometimes she would perch tranquilly for an hour or more, and sometimes she would get excited and start flying repeated oval patterns around or living room / dining room. She usually kept close to her box next to the back sliding door, and loved to sit in the sunlight for extended periods, watching all the wild birds who came to our feeder on the back porch. Goldie was remarkably tame, and would eat food out of the palm of my hand. Another time she landed on my arm in order to pluck a few strands of wool from my sweater for use in making her nest. She traveled with us to South Dakota in September-October, 2000. Laid 16 eggs altogether. In early 2001 we bought a male canary to keep her company, and she reacted very enthusiastically to George. Only a couple months later, however, she died on March 15, 2001 (the Ides of March) of an apparent infection.
Purchased January 20, 2001 (Inauguration Day) in Stuarts Draft, VA. Named in honor of President George W. Bush, but also partly for the late Beatle George Harrison because of his "mop top" crown. At first he didn't know how to fly, and would flap furiously without gaining much altitude, but after a few days of practice he was fine. He and Goldie would fly around the apartment in contented harmony. After a couple weeks he began doing what male canaries are famous for -- singing his little heart out as a way of asserting his territorial dominance in preparation for the breeding season. But soon Goldie died. George was particularly inquisitive and prone to explore (behind the sofa, etc.), much like the monkey named "Curious George."He was a superb singer, but was more subdued during molting months. Preferring privacy when he was tired, he would often rest in our bedroom, or even the bathroom. On January 9, 2008, to our immense sorrow, he died rather suddenly while I was out of town.
Princess suffered a tragic leg injury on the very same day we bought her, because of a faulty box from the pet store. The injury was then aggravated by faulty treatment. She gradually got used to flying, but sometimes had a hard time landing because her right leg was lame for life. She had a calm disposition but was sometimes feisty around George, and often called for him loudly when he was not in the same room. She was a prodigious egg layer, but it was all for nought as her lame leg prevented her from coupling properly, so all the eggs were sterile. She suffered further injuries in mid-2008 and August 2009, and had to have her good (left) lower leg amputated on the latter occasion. As she became more frail and helpless, we had to provide more intensive care for her, letting her sip water drops from our finger tips. Nevertheless, she remained fairly spunky and active until the last couple months. She finally died on April 5, 2010 -- during the night after Easter Sunday. She was with us for almost exactly nine years, and since she was probably at least six months old when we bought her, she reached the oldest age of all our canaries by the time she died.
About two weeks after George died, we were fortunate to find a male canary in a local pet store. He seemed enegetic and healthy, and bore a strong resemblance to George, though without the crown feathers. We kept the new bird semi-isolated in the cage for a few days so that he and Princess could get to know each other. Little by little we opened the cage door so he could step outside when he wanted, but still retreat to safety. As with George and Princess, it took him a while to get the hang of flying, because he had been in a cage his whole life. We waited a while before we finally settled on a name for him: Luciano, out of respect for the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who passed away in 2007. Luciano the canary had a slight physical deformity: no claw on the back toe of his right foot, but fortunately, it didn't affect his ability to perch. Unfortunately, he died unexpectedly in October 2010, perhaps having caught air sac mites from Lucy.
As Princess became seriously ill in August 2009, we decided to buy a new female companion for Luciano. Because of her resemblance to Luciano, with a somewhat paler shade of yellow, we decided to name the newest avian arrival in the Clem household "Lucy." As a precaution, we kept Lucy in the cage for the first few days so that all three birds could get familiar with each other before. When we finally let Lucy out she started flying without too much difficulty, to our surprise, but learning to land was a bit of a problem. She had an amazing appetite, and loved to eat apple slices. After Princess died in April, it was just Luciano and Lucy. By this time, we realized that she had a serious breathing problem, and by the summer of 2010 she had lost all of her head feathers. The veterinarian's diagnosis was air sac mites, but it's hard to be sure without doing a necropsy. Unfortunately, the treatment prescribed by the veterinarian failed to cure the problem, and Lucy died in December. That marked the fourth canary death of the year; 2010 was clearly the annus horriblis in our household.
Because Lucy's health was in serious decline, in September 2010, we bought yet another female companion for Luciano, whom we named "Olive" because of her dark greenish color. Very early on, however, we could tell something was wrong with her health, and she suddenly died within one month. As it was clear that Lucy was nearing the end of her life, that was a bitter blow to our hopes for raising canaries.
Oliver arrived at a very sad time, just after Olive (very similar in appearance, of course) had died, and just before Lucy finally passed away. He was small but spunky male canary with a dark olive color (hence the name), and after we got a new mate for him (see below) he successfully fathered all but two of the other canaries that were born in our household! We had no idea what to expect as the eggs laid by Daisy hatched in April 2011, but he had strong parenting instincts and fed the hatchlings regurgitated food quite dutifully. Another instinct he had was to chase his male offspring away from the room where the bird cage and nest were, after the latter had begun to sing -- at the age of only a month or two! To keep the rivals apart, we had to buy sheer curtains to separate the living room (where the young males ended up settling down) from the canaries' bedroom. We were dismayed at the fierce squabbling but understood that is just how nature works. The same "exile" took place when the next male hatched and fledged in mid-summer, and when three more males hatched and fledged a year after that. Oliver was a very prolific father indeed. Sadly, he suffered an injury late in 2014 and died after four and a half years with us.
Daisy was the true "matriarch," a large pure yellow female canary who successfully raised nine (9) young canaries. The folks in the pet store were pretty sure that she was a female, and all doubt was erased the next morning after we brought her home, as she laid an egg on a wicker shelf without having had time to make a nest! Even though she was bigger than Oliver, the two of them hit it off very well from the beginning: romance was in the air! Her first clutch of eggs in March failed to hatch, but then one day in April I heard a tiny peep from her nest -- the miracle of life before our very eyes! The hatchling we later named Pavarotti was followed by three siblings over the next few days, and two more canaries successfully hatched and fledged in June. One year later, Daisy had another clutch of two offspring (at the same time that one of her own daughters did likewise!), and a month after that, in July 2012, her ninth and final offspring (Sunflower) hatched and fledged. Unfortunately, Daisy died quite after spending only one and a half years with us. I was watching her in her cage one early evening in September 2013, and she suddenly started choking and fell to the bottom. It was one of those mysteries, with a rapid onset of symptoms of unknown cause. As with her mate Oliver, I suspect that it might have been brought on by the stress of so many birds living in such close quarters.
Pavarotti was the first canary to hatch in our household, arriving just a few hours before his brother Handsome. He began singing soon after fledging a couple weeks after he was born, proof that he was a male. Indeed, it was his singing ability from which his name was taken. He and Handsome soon became accustomed to physical contact with humans (more so than their parents, in fact), and eventually made a habit out of perching on our outstretched arms, shoulders, or even the tops of our heads! Over the years, he became a good buddy of mine, accompanying me while I sang and played guitar. In July 2019 Pavarotti somehow injured one of his wings, seriously diminishing his ability to fly. By the fall he could only fly short distances, and we had to help him get to his usual sleeping quarters every night at bed time. He remained healthy and energetic otherwise, however, but the loss of Handsome in December seemed to lose his spirits. After Zoe died a month later, Pavarotti was all alone. During the spring of 2020, as we were mostly confined to quarters because of the covid-19 pandemic, he developed problems with one of his legs, which was followed by the dreaded breathing problems that Handsome and some of the others had experienced. After weeks of struggling, on May 28 he finally passed away. He was with us for nine years, one month, and three weeks -- longer than any of our other pet canaries. He was the first-born canary in our household, and he was the last to depart from us.
"But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first."
Handsome was an energetic, even-tempered companion of Pavarotti for over eight and a half years. He was always the #2 in the "pecking order," even though he was only a few hours younger than Pavarotti. Birth order matters a great deal in the bird social world! Being banished to the living room by Oliver, Handsome (and Pavarotti) developed their own daily routine, and we had to make accommodations for them in terms of places to eat, perch, and sleep. In spite of his relatively mild manners, in June 2012 Handsome successfully mated with his sister Precious, fathering two offspring: Little Oliver and Peewee. He somehow injured one of his legs in July 2019, and because he could not support his body while perching, he developed breathing problems during the fall. He got worse during November and died just before Christmas.
Precious was the first female canary to be born with us, but it took a few weeks after she fledged before we could be sure. She was friendly and energetic, and by the early months of 2012 she was beginning to gather nesting material, in effect competing with her mother (Daisy) for reproductive "rights." Those two females built their nests less than a foot apart from each other, somehow managing to keep their instinctual rivalry in check. Precious successfully mated with her brother Handsome at the age of one. That pair had two (obviously inbred) male offspring: Little Oliver and Pewee, both of whom outlived her. Precious began losing her head feathers in 2015, perhaps because of feather mites, and by the end of that year was completely bald. She died at the age of five.
Lucci (or just "Uchi" for short) was an energetic female canary who was the "runt" of the first litter, being born two days after Precious. Like her "elder" sister, Lucci quickly became an expert nest-builder. Her name was derived from two of her predecessors, Luciano and Lucy, but more specifically referring to the beautiful soap opera actress Susan Lucci. As the sixth canary born here in 2011, she represented a very gratifying wonderful year, in the wake of the awful year 2010. Canary population at the end of 2011: eight (8)! Once again, however, a mysterious tragedy struck, and she died rather suddenly of unknown causes close to her first birthday.
Duke was a spunky male canary who was almost all pale yellow in color. He was the first of two canaries that hatched and fledged in June 2011, two months after Daisy's first clutch. He died rather suddenly in March 2012, at the age of just nine months. It was the first canary fatality for us since December 2010.
Kate was a pale, mixed yellow and olive female canary who hatched four days after Duke as part of Daisy's second fertile clutch of eggs in June 2011. She died after about two years with us.
Zorro and Little Oliver (see below) were born on the same day (June 4, 2012), "twin sons of different mothers," you might say. (That's the title of an album by Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg.) Zorro was Daisy's son. He was an energetic male canary with a black "mask" (hence the name), but he died after nearly three years with us.
Little Oliver was the first offspring of Precious, part of a mid-summer "baby boom" in our household. For most of his life, Little Oliver (named after his similarly-plumaged grand (?) father) was relatively aloof, not as trusting in us as were his other family members. But after Pewee died in January 2018, he became more friendly. Two months later, however, he died too.
Katie followed Zorro in Daisy's June 2012 nest. We had so many canaries by then (she was the eleventh!) that we must have lost creativity in naming. Accordingly, it was hard to keep Kate and Katie properly distinguished. Katie had an average-length life (five-plus years), and died in November 2012, right around Thanksgiving.
Peewee (the second son of Precious) was a friendly, mostly yellow female canary who was one of the only two "second generation" canaries in our household. He was fond of eating sandwiches on the dinner table, but he developed health problems late in 2017. I'll never forget the way he chirped in a pitiful way while looking at me, a week or so before he died. It was as though he were begging for some kind of help or perhaps bidding farewell. He was five and a half years old.
Sunflower was an "only bird," the lone hatchling in a clutch of eggs laid by Daisy in July 2012. (That was an amazingly short turnover time between clutches of eggs.) Sunflower was a pale, mostly yellow female canary who died after about two and a half years with us.
Zoe was a feisty female who started laying eggs soon after we bought her from a local pet store, but she never really fit in with the rest of the canaries. Our hopes that she would mate with one of the males did not come to fruition. For some reason, she developed breathing problems soon after Handsome did in late 2019, and she died in January 2020 at the presumable age of four. After she died, Pavarotti was the only surviving canary -- four about four more months.