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Charlie's Secret

Friday, August 19, 2011

He was born in an Arizona incubator, came rolling out of an egg that had been taken from his parents. Which, right off the bat, doesn’t seem right. He was bred of captive parents for captivity, but he was never domesticated, and his kind never can be.

He was shipped at a tender age to a bird broker in Connecticut who put an ad in the paper, which was spotted by a 31-year-old woman who had recently lost Edie, her best-ever white budgie.

Who wanted a new baby bird who would live a long, long time. Who probably should have been planning for a human baby about then, but that’s moot now, beside the point.

She got what she wanted, and a whole lot more. She put Charlie in a big cage that took up almost her whole tiny living room in a cabin in the woods in Connecticut. Charlie learned to call her boyfriend’s name: “ROB?!” and he called Rob for the next two decades, even after the young woman left and 
 moved to Maryland, and then to Ohio.


Charlie bit Julie's new boyfriend Bill until the bird figured out that he wouldn’t get any more beer if he kept doing that.

Bill and Julie got married and built Charlie his own room with glass doors and a sunny window and a big countertop to play on. Charlie could keep Julie company in the studio, and he did, very well indeed.

Along came a little girl, Phoebe, in 1996, and Charlie was fascinated and fell in love with the little girl. 

They played for hours all around the house, in closets and halls, hiding and chuckling and sharing secrets together. 
Phoebe could do anything with Charlie. She could wrap him in her blue blankie and carry him like a baby.

 When Liam was born in 1999, Charlie fell in love all over again, and suggested to Phoebe that she should probably learn to fly off and find her own territory. That never happened, so they all learned to get along.

 Liam loved Charlie, too, and that made Julie very happy. She felt lucky to have a bird that everyone in the family could handle and enjoy.

Charlie was 17 when a little black and white puppy came to live on Indigo Hill. He bit the pup once on the nose and was the Boss forever after. Chet and Charlie played lots of games, but Charlie wasn’t much for sharing toys or seats or beds. He just took them and bossed Chet around.

 All along, Charlie kept his best friend Julie company as she worked on her writing and painting. He loved to watch a bird take shape under her hand. He liked to check to see if their shiny eyes might come off the paper.

For her part, Julie loved his warm doeskin-soft cheeks, his kisses, his crazy sense of humor, and the sweet familiar weight of Charlie on her shoulder as she worked and thought.

She did not love the endless messes he made, but she took the good with the bad. She often said that there is no dirtier animal than a macaw, and she sounded like she meant it. “A hundred times more work than a dog! A hundred times!”

Phone bill? What phone bill?

Sometimes papers went missing. Bills, things like that. Books were notched, stationery was confettified, and cabinets were emptied, especially when Julie was otherwise occupied. 

Really, the safest place for Charlie was on Julie's shoulder, supervising the bird painting.

There were warm summer evenings and lawn games;

there were chases and screams and Sungold tomatoes.

 There was mashed sweet potato from a spoon. And cheesy eggy grits. Everything good.

 Julie loved to draw Charlie when he was snoozy.

And then in late summer 2011 Charlie started to act strangely. He fell silent and began looking for a corner where he could build a nest. He wanted to tear up the wall of his own special room, but Julie gave him newspapers and thick art catalogues instead. He could reduce them to confetti in a single day. He chewed and chewed. 

July 15, 2011

Charlie began pulling his tail forward and making odd roaring squawks. He rushed at anyone who entered his room. He hardly paused to eat. And then there was a rattle in Charlie’s breath, and Julie became very alarmed. She called his best veterinarian, Bob from Connecticut. Bob listened to Julie’s story, and the first question he asked was, “Are you sure Charlie is a male?”

The bird dealer had assured Julie that Charlie had been surgically sexed and was a male. Charlie had been mating with Julie’s sock foot for years (whether she liked it or not). Julie thought Charlie was a boy…but maybe someone had lied, someone who was trying to sell a macaw quickly. If only the dealer could have known what that lie would do. It would have been good to know Charlie's sex for certain. It would have explained a lot.

Summer 1990. Photo by Michael Stern

On a Monday night in August, Charlie’s biggest secret became clear. She was trying to lay an egg, an enormous egg, and it would not come out. The egg was so big it had collapsed Charlie's air sacs, causing the rattle in her breath. Julie held her little hen macaw in her arms past midnight, then got up at 4 AM to rush her to Columbus on Tuesday morning. All the way, Julie cradled Charlie’s cheek in her hand, stroking her sweet sea-blue head. But the egg wouldn’t come, and no amount of work by a bird veterinarian could remove it all. Charlie was terribly sick and fading fast. When the doctor let Julie in to see her, Charlie was in an incubator once again. Which didn’t seem right at all.

And when Charlie heard Julie’s voice, her eyes flew open and she struggled to the front of the plastic cube to be closer to her best-ever friend.

Winter 1989. Photo by Michael Stern.

And that was the last they ever saw of each other. Which still doesn’t seem right. 

But there’s nothing to be done about it but to go on, in a studio that is now much too quiet.

August 19, 1988
August 9, 2011


Oh Julie. I'm sorry for your loss. That was a beautiful tribute to an old friend.

Julie, I am so sorry. Charlie was very much loved and you gave her a wonderful life.

Ohh Julie, so sorry (sending long-distance hugs) -- I didn't see the end coming, so quite an emotional ride of a post!
Some won't understand this, but I suspect you will: I've cried more at the loss of certain pet birds (none of which I had as long as you had Charlie) than I've cried at the loss of a human friend or family member.
Thanks for sharing such a lovely tribute...

I am so, so sorry for your loss of Charlie, but what a life the two of you got to live together. Sending warm hugs and peace to surround your soul my friend.

Julie: such beautiful writing for such a tragic story. What wonderful memories and pictures that can forever be preserved for you and Charlie.

Oh, I am so sorry. When you started, I thought, "Uh, oh, this is going to turn out good." How do I know? I wrote a similar post on my blog on Monday as we lost a dear canine companion this week, too. That was a beautifully written story. I know you wish you didn't have to write it.

isn't going to turn out good, I meant.

You had such a beautiful relationship with Charlie--I'm so sorry for your loss. She had a good life with you and your wonderful family. Take comfort in that.


Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 4:36 AM

Julie, I don't even know how you wrote this. I am crying my eyes out for you and Charlie. I am so sorry for your loss.
Much love and blessings for the amazing home that you gave this little girl.


Julie, I'm so sorry to hear of Charlie's passing. Poor thing. I'm crying, too. She's lucky to have had you for a mom, even in a much-abbreviated life for a macaw.

Julie, I don't even know how you wrote this, I am crying my eyes out. I am so sorry for your loss. You gave Chalie and amazing home and I am sending you love and blessings.


Thanks for sharing this lovely tribute. Thinking of you.

As I read, I could sense the conclusion that was building, and grew sadder with each paragraph, realizing that this was not so much a tribute as a panegyric.

Reading this I remembered looking at baby parrots and being warned by a friend "Don't. Having parrot isn't like owning a pet, its like having a child. It takes a constant effort, a constant attention to them, and that isn't in you."

Obviously "that" was in you. Charlie sounds like a wonderful bird, and it sounds like your world was richer with her in it.

Julie, I am so sorry. Your story made me cry. They are such beaufiful bird. I'm sure you have many memories of Charlie to keep in you heart forever and she will spend and eternity in bird heaven!

I am so sorry to hear of the loss your beloved Charlie I feel for you and your family. May God speed 'her' on her journey.

I'm so sorry to hear about Charlie. What a hole the loss of a pet, a friend leaves, especially when they are a connection to so much of our lives. I always liked to read about Charlie's adventures--upsetting the cabinets, playing keep away with Chet Baker-- and will miss her.

Susan E

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 5:00 AM

As I read Charlie's story a knot formed in my tummy, a feeling of forboding. So sad for you, your family and Charlie but as others have said she could not have asked for a better bird mom.

Definitely starting the reading day with tears in my eyes. What a sweet tribute to Charlie. I'm sad for your loss, amazed at her surprising secret, and happy at the pictures and memories you have with her.

I am so, so sorry to read this....sending love and hugs your way...

I am tremendously sorry for your loss. Having lost a beautiful bird myself to being egg bound, I know the fear and hurt you felt for your loving friend. Good thing Charlie was a gender-neutral name :)

In all seriousness, the bond we have with animals is sooo special. I truly feel for you and the pain you're going through right now. My heart aches for you and Charlie. What I do know is that you gave Charlie the best life Charlie could ever have with any human. An animal in your care is a lucky one, indeed.

I'm just so sorry, Julie. I'll carry you and Charlie in my thoughts. I've never met either of you, but I honestly carry a heavy heart for you both.


I am so sorry for your loss. Both you and Charlie hit the jackpot when you entered each other's lives. Memories will keep her alive in your hearts.

Oh, Julie, I'm so sorry. What a lovely way to remember Charlie. Thinking of all of you . . .

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 5:40 AM

Oh Julie, I'm so sorry to hear of Charlie's passing. I always enjoyed hearing stories & seeing pictures of Charlie. I hope all your wonderful memories of life with this special macaw will bring you comfort. Hugs from Minnesota.

Terribly sorry for your loss. That was quite a moving tribute, beautiful.


Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 5:56 AM

I'm so sorry for your loss, Julie. My thoughts are with all of you.

Posted by Michelle from Ohio August 19, 2011 at 5:56 AM

What beautiful pictures! I feel like I really know Charlie. So sorry for your loss.

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 6:02 AM

I'm so very, very sorry to hear about your loss. I grew to like her very much from reading your posts about her and Chet. I know she will be deeply missed.

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 6:14 AM

Sorry for your loss. I have been there to many times with my animals also. leaves an empty space in your heart

Aw, Julie (and BOTB and Phoebe and Liam)... Words fail.

Lots and lots of hugs.

Julie, so sorry for your families loss, Charlie will be remembered always by many. Jeanne

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 6:27 AM

Julie, I am so sorry for your loss. Charlie was the best companion you could have and she'll be missed by everyone across the world.

NO NO NO No No No no no no...
Damn it.
Why do all the best feathered and fur friends have to leave us?
So sorry.
I have enjoyed every Charlie story I have ever read--I will miss your sweet stories of Charlie's antics.
Sending as many good thoughts your way, knowing only time will soothe your grief, and then only a bit. There will still be a big hole in your hearts and memories.

I am sorry, Julie. My heart aches for you.

My third time reading this. Third times in tears.

Oh. my. God. This is one of the SADDEST true tales I think I have3 ever read...It has broken my heart too...crying so hard I can't write now.....sending love and hugs of deepest sympathy

Oh, Julie, so sad. I know you gave that bird the best ever life she could have.

Hugs & birdy kisses.

This seems to have been quite a year for the Thompson-Zickefoose family. Thank you for allowing your readers to mourn with you the loss of Bill Sr, the old oak tree, and now dear Charlie. Your anecdotes conveyed through skillful writing and photography have engraved them all in our hearts and their legacy will endure.

Thank you for sharing Charlie's story. Sorry for the loss of your friend.

I started crying halfway through. I am so, so sorry.

My heart is breaking for your loss of Charlie. I wish you and your family all solace in this time and know that a heart in Omaha has you all wrapped in love.

I am so sad to read this post. Charlie was a lucky bird to have been adopted and loved by you. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Farewell, Charlie. Friend and companion remembered with poignant words.

Julie and family, Feeling your lost of a beloved family member. I always loved your stories of him/her. This one however left me speechless and very sad. May you find comfort in knowing she loved you and your family and had a truly wonderful life.

So sorry for your loss. You loved her/him well.

Julie, I know no words will console but your eloquent expression of your grief helps us all mourn alongside you and I hope that warmth will help a little.
You are loved.

Oh NOOOOOOOO! I just can't believe this. No more more Charlie posts. I started reading this at work. While half way through realized something wasn't right and had to stop as I was already getting teary and I had to prepare for a meeting with my executive director in a few minutes. Meeting ended and I came right back to finish. So, so sad. I closed my door so folks wouldn't see me cry...

I lost my oldest cat, Apu, two months ago. He was 15 and I had him since he was 4 months old. He was diagnosed with diabetes in January and we just got him stabilized in April. Twice a day insulin shots were pretty routine. He was a pretty cranky guy and I just assumed he would live on in all his crankiness and insulin shots well into his 20s, but it was not meant to be.

My deepest condolences and hugs to the Zickefoose/Thompson Clan.

(Has Chet been looking for him?)

I'm so, so sorry for your loss. I've been a lurker on your site for a while, and I've loved reading your posts about Charlie. I can feel how strong your for her is. This is a lovely tribute.

A tribute to love that leaves one weak from tears and grateful that you shared. Blessings as you remember all the love you and your family shared with Charlie.

What a beautiful tribute. Rest in peace Charlie.

A repeat of everyone else--- So very sorry for your loss and the loss for your whole family. How wonderful to be able to share this intimate, life long experience with such a special creature. Such a moving tribute. My heart goes out to you and your family.

Oh dear. I'm thinking of all of you Julie. What a good good bird Charlie was. Thanks for the really beautiful post.

Julie, we are so sorry to hear about your loss and are thinking of you.Charlie sounded like a great bird.

And after adding to the tears shed across the country for your loss, I'd like to think that the outpouring of condolences here helps soften the pain just a wee bit for you and your family.

Oh, no. I am so sorry. Towards the end I was hoping that all the past-tense references to Charlie were because she turned out to be a female after all this time. But no.

I can't pretend to imagine the hole in your heart that she leaves, but you have my sympathy in your sadness.

Nothing can replace the sadness or Charlie. Just as it was meant to be for you two to cross paths. It is now meant to be that something else that brings happiness and joy to your life has room. Years ago I lost my best friend Matz, silky terrier of 18 years. After that I had my children and another dog. Not the same dog, can't fill that fur. Maybe Matz made me an easier person to love....or made me love others more. I won't say sorry for your loss, but glad you had the oportunity to know a love so great.

So, so sad for you. My heart is heavy after reading this. Sending hugs.

Sending hugs to you and your family, sharing your tears.

What a wonderful, happy life Charlie had with all of you.

miss weezy in Texas

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 10:20 AM

I, like everyone else, am so sorry to hear about Charlie. She lead a wonderful, although to short, live with you and your family. My thoughts are with you. Lori H.

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 10:20 AM

My heart goes out to you and the family. I am so sorry.

I am commenting the second time on this post (wanting to come back and read it a second time--your writing is so lovely) and would like to ask a question. If you had KNOWN Charlie was a female, could this have been prevented? Is there some way to prevent females from producing eggs?
Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Thank you, everyone, for your sympathy, your empathy, your tears. I'm having to drink extra water today to replace them.

Sharon, to answer your question, I wasted a couple of days going down a false diagnostic road when the rattle came up in Charlie's breathing. I thought she might have aspergillosis, and that was suggested to me by two veterinarians with whom I consulted. I kept emphasizing her weird nesting behavior and saying I did not think she was ill--she was eating and very active--but when someone says their parrot has a rattle in their breathing, aspergillosis is the first place most veterinarians go. In fact, what was going on was that the egg was so large it collapsed her abdominal air sacs, and that was the rattle I heard. Had I known she was a female and might have a huge egg inside her, I could have sought help when the rattle started on a Saturday instead of waiting until the egg moved down the oviduct and she actually started trying to lay it late Monday night. It wouldn't have come as such a terrible surprise that the egg had been the problem all along, and she might have been able to have had a hysterectomy in time to save her life.

An additional complication is that, although the pet stores in the Marietta/Parkersburg area are merrily selling parrots and have for years, there is no avian veterinarian within two hours from here. The sole veterinarian in town who will see pet birds refused to help me. Told me, at 5 pm on a Monday afternoon, when I'd called, frantic, at 8 AM, that it was too urgent...that I needed to get Charlie to a specialist in Columbus. How very helpful, to know that it was that urgent, nine hours later.

The bird broker was trying to offload Charlie. She knew what I didn't: that people prefer a male bird for a pet for precisely this reason--the risk of egg binding or worse, constant egg production, later in life. It was expedient for her to lie in order to sell Charlie to me.

I've read that some hens can be given Depo-Provera shots to staunch egg-laying. It's all moot now.

If I sound like I'm kicking myself for not knowing what was going on with my own bird, I am. If I sound like I'm still in shock and angry at myself and at people who lie about matters that turn out to be life-and-death, I am. I knew my relationship with Charlie would end eventually. I'm going to be OK with that part. I am never going to be OK with the way she had to go.

Julie, it's horrible to hear that lovely, funny, charismatic Charlie has left us. I'm certain that her love for you was as great as your love for her, and that this love kept her safe until the end.

Sigh...such love, such love. Hugs to you and your family.

And Vivi insisted I read this outloud (even though she knew what was coming). She wants you to know that Charlie had a great family, she hopes that helps.

Oh, Julie. I'm crying with you and for you. I will always have the fondest memories of my times with Miko, and "she" will forever be in my heart as the only not-so-friendly-with-strangers macaw that ever finally let me hold her. All my love, Wes.

oh i am so so sorry. what amazing life charlie had. i am crying and jojo is barking "let's go for a walk, that always cheers you up!". love to you.

Dearest Julie,

Hind-sight is always 20/20, even with regard to our furred and feathered kids. We've all played the "but what if I had..." game after losing one; it's part of the grieving process. And if by chance we have made an honest mistake (which we all have done, as well) we learn and we educate others and eventually we go on.

When you are able to, remember that Charlie had 23 wonderful years she would never have had with anyone else, nor would she have brought such joy to so many people.

More hugs coming your way.

Dear Julie, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I am sure the whole family is sad but of course especially you. What a wonderful life Charlie had in your care. Big Hugs.

I am sitting at my computer with tears running down my face.

Tears from Oregon are joining the river that has been created because of Charlie's death. I had a lovebird for 17 years; expected it to be more like 30 because of what I'd read, but was told by the vet that it's usually more like 5 or 6. It's NEVER long enough....

You gutted me with this one Julie. I saw it coming and it didn't make any difference.

I am so sorry - Charlie was a beautiful bird and lucky to be part of such a good family.

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Such heartbreaking news Julie, but written in such a beautiful way. My heart aches for you and your family. So, so sorry this happened.

Dear Julie... I am heartbroken for your loss. There are no words. I think Charlie is waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for you all to be reunited one day. Biggest hugs to you all!!
xox Dorothy

Our pets give us so much more than we ever expect...but I think Charlie was very, very lucky to haave lead such a good life with you and your family too. Wishing you peace.

from one animal lover and adorer to another I am so sorry for your loss. I know how deeply loved and a part of the family a pet can be. Your kind words and memories of your precious best friend brought tears to my eyes. You are in my thoughts and have my condolences.

I am so sorry. I always enjoyed hearing about when he had been especially bad. It was great to get to know him from the start.--hart

Please, please, please, do NOT beat yourself up with the 'what-ifs'. Please don't! We are all human, we can only go with what we know. We're not superheroes and sometimes our best efforts aren't enough in nature. You did your absolute best to care for her at the end (and if it feels strange to me to call Charlie a 'her', I can only imagine how it feels for you), and for her entire life. Look at what a good, long, wonderful life she had with your family, how much longer her life was with you than it would have been elsewhere. You gave her the gift of 23 years of total devotion and care and love. That is a wonderful gift.

My condolences to you and the whole family. Charlie's spunk always showed in your pictures, and I marveled at how fascinating it would be having a companion animal who could actually speak words. Take care.

Oh noooooooo such a sad story for you and for Charlie. I am also so sorry for your family's loss.

Yeah, not OK with the WAY she had to go. You trust others to be ethical, honest, responsible, professional. Impeccable. Like you are in your dealings with people, creatures, life. I don't think it's expecting too much, and it's not your fault that some fall way short. I am truly sorry for your loss and pain. And Charlie's.

Posted by Amy Girten August 19, 2011 at 6:42 PM

Oh, no. Julie, I'm so sorry.

I have to echo Wren nests in...: "When you are able to, remember that Charlie had 23 wonderful years she would never have had with anyone else, nor would she have brought such joy to so many people."

You and your family are in my thoughts. Take care --

Those of us who have loved and lost pets understand what a difficult time it is. I know this is difficult for Liam and Phoebe just as it is for you and Bill. All of you will be in my thoughts.

It is rather trite, but I believe Dr. Seuss said it best: Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

I hope the coming days will bring smiles as you and the family talk about the good and funny times you had with Charlie.

Oh Julie, so sorry. Your photos through the 20+ years of Charlie's life with you & your family is a tribute to the wonderful life she enjoyed.

I'm tearful now Julie. So sad for charlie. I'm so sorry for your loss... But again she was lucky to had a friend like you. Now, no more pain on her. She's in peace. *hugs*

How about the egg? did she/he made it?

Oh. I am so very sorry. Good girl, Charlie.

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Oh Julie, to have to go on from such a heartbreaking shock and maddening loss! I am so, so sorry. Your heart's companion, your children's trusted impish first link to wildness, Chet's sassy trainer/buddy, your pal at every turn of the wheel.... but to lose a Muse too soon has all of us aching for you and shinning gratitude for that Scamp Charlie and all she nurtured in you.

Thank you Charlie of the soft cheeks and love back at you, Julie,

Leslie Y.

Posted by Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Tears are flowing.

Such a wonderful story. I am so very sorry and isn't this the kind of tribute that we all wish for at the end when there is too much silence. Peace be with you out there Julie. Thank you.

So sorry about Charlie. A fitting tribute to a very big part of your family. I have read about being egg bound and it probably kills pet birds and their owners have no idea why.I have a 15 year old dutch blue pied male lovebird. He's an old man now with a little broken wing which keeps him in the cage now and away from Izzy. He used to have the run of the house and porch.We have no vets around here who are avian docs. He almost died when he broke the idea how but I took very good care of him and he is still here. I know it will be strange around your house without Charlie.

Oh Julie, I'm so sorry to hear about Charlie's passing as well. I delighted in reading about Charlie's escapades, the stories of a truly happy parrot with the best mama a bird could hope for. To have four family members to cuddle her, give her birdy hugs and kisses, share food & drink, and laugh rather than scold, is such a wonderful gift to give someone--human or animal. Lucky bird, to have such a family. Sending good thoughts your way.

Oh my.
I thought since I had already heard the news that I could handle this post.
It is such a beautiful tribute and really brings home how much a part of your life Charlie was, and is.

Such a beautiful, loving tribute. Tears and more tears.

Such sad news, Julie. The loss of a pet can be every bit as hard as that of a friend or family member - they are a friend and family member. Sending warm supportive thoughts to you and your family.

I'm so sorry. Charlie was lovely.

Can't see to type. Sorry. So sorry!

This is the first time I have posted on your wonderful blog after reading it for years, and today I do so in tears. What a beautiful tribute you wrote for Charlie. I will miss your posts about her, but not nearly as much as you and your family will miss her presence. She was blessed to be loved and cared for by you and your family.

Julie, I'm so sorry about Charlie. She was a wonderful pet and friend.

I am so soorry for your loss. May her memory be a blessing.

Wayne, PA

Posted by Anonymous August 21, 2011 at 5:15 AM

Julie, I don't know you personally but I follow your blog, and of course Chet Baker. This had me crying all day yesterday. What a beautiful tribute to sweet, mischievous Charlie. I lost my dear Frosty-dog in March after 13 years and I am still struggling with that loss. I can only image how empty your studio feels now. I will continue to pray for you and your family in this loss. Know your love and careing for animals is appreciated by so many.


Posted by Anonymous August 21, 2011 at 6:47 AM

Oh Julie,
I am so very sorry for your loss..
Our animal companions always leave such a hole in our hearts when they go.. Charlie will live in all our hearts together.. and now she is free to fly the heavens.
peace to you.

I am so sorry for the loss of your family member. Thank you for sharing with your readers.

What a great Tribute. Tahnk you for sharing both the good and the bad and the UGLY (Snapper turtles). So very soprry about your pal Charlie so very sad.

Whew, that was hard to get through. I'm so sorry Julie. My sister sent me part of a poem when my favorite hummingbird was killed. It made me feel better, & I pass it along to you:
"So come brush against the walls of my life
And stay long enough for us to know each other,
Even though we'll have to part some time.
We both know the longer you stay, the more
I'll want you when you are gone. But come anyway
For fairy tales are the happiest stories we read,
And great books are made of little chapters."

Oh, so sorry to hear this. Sympathy to your family. Even though I never met Charlie, I will miss your wonderful stories about her. What a sad surprise. Best wishes...

I remember a frantic drive to a vet with a little cockatiel who had become accidently acquainted with a celing fan. The little hen recovered and went on to lay and raise several clutches of babies.

We have a common friend who knows we have an African Grey (11 years old) and a one-year-old little Boston Terrorist. We send lots of hugs from our house to your house.

Julie, I was on vacation when Charlie came in to our clinic so I never got to meet Charlie in person. I saw your card today and was touched by your words, and so I thought I would "see" Charlie for myself. What a beautiful and touching tribute to a faithful, fun, and forever type of friend. By halfway into your tribute, the tears were already welling in my I'm just a mess, and I still have appointments to do!! I am so sorry for your loss. Egg-binding is never a good experience for anyone involved...and I regret that Charlie did not survive it. I hope you find a way to fill that emptiness in your studio......if we can do anything to assist you in the future, don't hesitate to call us here at ACU! Most of us here are glorified bird owners and truly feel the unique and deep pain experienced when losing such a personable pet. Our thoughts are with you. Dr. Jodi Lynn Smith

Posted by Anonymous August 23, 2011 at 9:15 AM

I am so sorry Julie. Janet may have told you I have lost my golden boy Douglas and I shall never recover from it. I know your pain. I truly do. I hold his ashes on my lap in a box and finger his collar as I still talk to him at night. Friends say time will heal; I'm still waiting. My thoughts are with you kind, sweet lady.

Oh, my God, oh my God, oh my God!! I kept hoping this was not the end as I read through it, but sadly it was. I am so sorry for your pain and that Charlie is no more. How horribly this must hurt to think that it was too late too help her. My dearest thoughts to you and the rest there on Indigo Hill.

Julie, after reading this, now I understand. What a story. what a love. What a heartache! Wow.

Thanks for posting such a heartwarming and heartbreaking story. Beloved pets hold such a big part in our lives that it's terrible to see them go. Charlie's still shredding paper and watching artwork take shape...but from a different place.

Posted by Anonymous August 24, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Julie, I am SO sorry about your loss! You took such wonderful care of Charlie. It is so hard to lose a pet... a friend.

Julie, you must know how much pleasure your blog gives to so many of us. I cherish your prints as well...and look forward to your new publication.

Bob Logan, M.D. Santa Barbara.(Would be incredibly pleased should you come our way to bird..)

Posted by Bob Logan August 29, 2011 at 9:37 PM

I just wanted to send you a PS by way of a thank you. This post helped me help my sister-in-law whose cockatiel Stanley recently began laying eggs -- and obviously then became known to be Miss Stanley. She is around 12 and never had laid any eggs. Because of your account with Charlie I was able to give my sister-in-law some info and find links on the web about cockatiels and egg-laying habits. When Miss Stanley's didn't lay her third egg after trying for more than a day, Kathy had the appropriate info to know she needed to find an avian vet, which she did. I'm happy to report that Miss Stanley had her collapsed egg manually removed and is recovering at home, and has been given a "birth control" shot to suppress ovulation for a while. So, thanks to what I learned from you I like to think that another wrong-sexed parrot was saved.

Hoping you are thinking of Charlie with greater peace as the days have passed.


Stefanie, you have made my day. One of the reasons I went through telling a very painful story (and I had to close my eyes as I scrolled through the photos to get to the comments) is because I hoped that I might educate other parrot owners about egg binding. I'm so happy that Stanley got the care she needed. And thank you so much for telling this story.

I'm 116. Loving this post all over again. Charlie, Chloe...


Rescue a makaw,charlie would want you to...

Posted by Anonymous January 17, 2016 at 12:56 AM
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