November 27, 2010
These past two months have been quite sad in our household, as two of our pet canaries suddenly passed away, for reasons that are still not clear. First to go was Olive, whom we had just bought in early September, and then Luciano, to whom we had become quite attached over the past three years.
We bought Olive nearly three months ago, in hopes of providing a more suitable female companion for Luciano. (The other female, Lucy, has been in declining health with some kind of respiratory ailment almost ever since we bought her in late summer 2009.) The name "Olive" came from the new canary's dark greenish color, much like what wild canaries look like. Jacqueline had been to the pet store and seen Olive there several times, sitting on a nest with an egg (sterile, of course), and felt that the poor thing deserved a real home in which her reproductive instincts could be put to good use. Sure enough, within a couple weeks of her arrival, Olive was busy searching for nesting material and built up a nest. She laid late a single egg in September, the first instance of egg laying in our household since Princess did so in December 2006. Olive's egg was abnormally small, however, and she soon showed various signs of ill health.
So, we took Olive to the veterinarian, who prescribed calcium supplements. He recommended that we not encourage her to build any more nests, as she was evidently not in good enough physical condition to lay eggs. Some captive-bred canaries are just that way, apparently. We duly followed the doctor's treatment suggestions, and for a while it seemed that Olive was getting better. Then in late October, Olive passed away, quite suddenly. She showed no warning signs of severe distress, so this came as quite a shock. Olive was with us for less than two months, barely enough time to get acquainted, and she never even learned to fly very well. The Beatles song "Hello, Goodbye" seems rather appropriate.
But we endured a much more painful blow about two weeks ago when our usually vigorous and friendly male canary, Luciano, passed away. Beginning in August, he had been suffering from respiratory problems similar to those of Lucy, so we took him in to see the veterinarian, who prescribed anti-mite medication -- for him and for Lucy. It was the same treatment we had given to Lucy last year. Luciano stopped coughing, but apparently he suffered some kind of reaction to the medicine. He became lethargic and his droppings were loose and watery. (The medicine did not affect Lucy that way.) In early November, Luciano started to improve briefly, and started flying around and vocalizing fairly regularly. We thought he was starting to recover, but then he had a relapse and died during the night. After devoting so much attention to him, for naught, we felt just awful.
Luciano was a very worthy "successor" to George, our first male canary who had died by accident in January 2008. Both George and Luciano were excellent singers, and both were amusingly inquisitive. It was just a couple weeks after George died that we bought Luciano. Very quickly he demonstrated his splendid singing abilities (audio clip!), but his courtship of Princess was too "ardent." Nevertheless, he became very well adapted to us, and even showed signs of self-awareness, as when he became enamored of his own image in the mirror. He grew very fond of greens from our back porch garden (see May 2008), and would even land on my shoulder or head in order to avail himself of those special treats; see last July. That is certainly not typical behavior for a canary. In sum, he was a very well-adjusted, content pet bird, and we fully expected he would be with us for at least another six or seven years. It didn't turn out that way, however. We will miss Luciano very, very much.