January 19, 2024

Remembering Sparty the Parakeet

by Daniel J. McKeown

copyright April, May, August 2014



Sparta rocked, she was a tall, strong, insistent bird. She wasn't one to back down. But she was also a beautiful bird, with nails so nice and feathers so smooth, an effortless show-quality bird with a lot of pride. She loved watching Jessica get ready in the morning--often she would let her and Belle out to fly before she had to leave for work and Sparta would perch on the open door to the bathroom and watch Jessica put in her curlers and apply her makeup. Though often prideful and standoffish, she would on rare occasion bombard Jessica with kisses. But much more often she would let Jessica come up to her and then give her a little kiss. With me--well we had a special bond, when she had some feather stuff sticking to here cere [nose] she would let me come up and grab the puff on the first or second much trust! I am so grateful for the fun I had following her around the house as she flew, she was such a clever bird she certainly knew up from down as she would sometimes fly down the stairs when I was watching her upstairs just to make things a little adventurous. She was a large strong bird and used to diving down to the perch she wanted with a "Neeenrr" but she was also know to share food (and sometimes even groom back and forth) especially with Belle over the years as she matured. As Jessica and blue Belle and I spent our last moments just hours ago with our beloved yellow bird we all told her we loved her, Belle repeating Jessica as she said it and looking at Sparta with the love of a lifelong friend. Such a great flyer, such a smart and humorous bird, Sparty had just celebrated her sixth birthday with us, and in those years, she changed all of our lives for the better as she uncompromisingly lived and loved.


We have grieved very deeply over Sparta. after talking about our yellow bird on a recent podcast recording, Jessica was overcome and cried and I was upset too, even as we had very joyful recollections of Spartan Bird.


Sparty Spartersen, the biggest and most beautiful of all the parakeets. When she wanted a spot on a perch she would let you know, descending down from a climbed-up position with a piercing "NEENER" before swooping in beak-first. I wondered if Belle was a afraid of her, whether Sparty's occasional outbursts and over-excitedness were too much, but when I moves them to different cages early this year, I wasn't surprised that Belle wanted to be back with her, running around and doing flips with her body at the edge of the cage to try to somehow get out of that one and into the one Sparty was in. But I was surprised to see Sparta jumpy and nervous too, wanting to be with her buddy Belle again. Within a day they were back in the same cage, buddies again.


Maybe in some ways I could relate to Sparty in ways others couldn't because we were both moody and thoughtful and sometimes just needed some space and distance... While she was hot and cold with Jessica in a very female bond sort of way yellow bird was just very cool with me and I always enjoyed her cleverness and determination and independent way.


Belle and Sparta would always stick tight together when out of the cage and would always call for each other. Since Belle has those dark nails, it’s hard to cut her claws because you don’t know where to cut and she bleeds if you hit the wrong spot. Sparta on the other hand had light but strong nails, easy enough (though thick) to cut but she seemed to always groom them on the perches because they always looked trimmed and just right.


I don't know if it was the right thing to do, playing Johhny Cash for Sparta in her last moments, but I think it was. Today when we were concerned about Belle before we took her to the vet and got her antibiotics and stuff we played Johnny Cash to help perk her up I don't know it was actually later during the ride to the vet in Bothell when she stopped making those strange high pitched squeaks.


Now I'm sitting at the vet with Belle a week later, does she need more antibiotics?? And we'll see about that soon but I'm glad she seems good. Losing Sparta was one of the toughest moments for her in her life, and them this last week, and we talked this week a lot about Sparta, about how the separation of the two has led them to test the cage potential exits and we laughed about how Sparta would have already opened it up and got loose.


The complexities of caring for Sparta along with the great joy along with what I've learned from vets and vet techs has inspired me to not only want to write and read about budgies but I would love to be able to advance research into them in some way. Understanding a bird as smart and complicated as Sparty is something that could only be done with careful research.
I can still feel what Sparta's energy was like. It was special just being around her and I distinctly sense her energy still, as does Jessica, her fellow beautiful creature. At most moments Sparta and I were close and she would listen to me but when her affection exploded it was often toward Belle or Jessica.

Profile picture

Written by Daniel J. McKeown who lives and works in Seattle watching birds. You could follow them on Substack

site built in 2024 with Gatsby