Friday, September 3, 2010
In Italy, Love Birds are called "Inseparabili". Once they find a mate, they stay together for life. They don't have to be of the opposite sex and, judging by the coloration of ours, I think they might both be males.
Everyone always says that if love birds are separated, they will die. They just can't bear to live without each other.
I've never had birds before but I've always loved the idea of hearing songbirds all day long. And boy do these birds sing!
We keep them in a cage on the loggia of the villa where they get lots of light and fresh air. It is the caretaker's job to make sure the cages are clean and stocked with water and feed.
One day last week, he was cleaning the cages as he always does - outside. I never said anything to him but I didn't think this was a good idea. If the birds somehow got out of the cage, they could simply fly away. I always thought this job should be done indoors where, should they escape, we could easily retrieve them.
Well, the inevitable happened. The bottom of the cage wasn't latched properly and when he went to lift the cage, the top separated from the bottom and one of the parakeets got out. He didn't go very far probably because he wasn't used to real flying. In cages they more or less just hop around - they don't really fly fly. So, there he was clinging to the outside of the cage while his mate was still inside. Maybe he wasn't sure that he wanted freedom without his mate. Or maybe he was trying to tell the other one that he should join him in the wilderness.
The caretaker called me frantically to come help. Just as I got there, he managed to grab the escapee and put him back in the cage. What he hadn't noticed, however, was that the cage still wasn't latched properly. As he picked up the cage, it came undone once again and this time both birds flew the proverbial coop. They were short flights. Hops, actually. But down the courtyard they went, ever further as they "got their wings." One flew into the jasmine bush and the other into the garden path. The caretaker managed to grab one in his hand. But the bird in the bush had found his freedom. Up he flew over the terracotta roof and into the olive orchards.
I was totally dismayed. Not because one had flown away but because I was afraid of what would happen to the caged one.
We kept the caged bird in the garden hoping its song would lure back his mate. We scoured the treetops, climbed balconies and terraces but all to no avail. He was gone.
I was distraught at the thought of the remaining one dying in his cage of a broken heart, of sheer loneliness, even though others kept reassuring me that parakeets always return. I waited and looked up at the sky as often as I could. No sign of him. That's when I decided that if he didn't return by nightfall, I would let the other one go as well. I'd rather have them try to find each other in the open fields than have one die in captivity. It was my only option.
As the hours passed, the caged one seemed to be singing louder and louder. Or was he crying? Screaming for help? I tried not to listen.
The sun was now setting and I had to think of letting him go in the morning. Just then, the caretaker hears another similar song coming from the upstairs terrace. It definitely wasn't the caged bird, it was a response. Up we went to the terrace and sure enough, there was the mate, singing as loud as he could in response to his mate down below. He had returned.
We brought the cage upstairs, placed it on the wall and licketysplit, he came hopping over to the cage. Both birds now singing together. It took awhile to lure and retrieve the free one but we finally did it.
Love conquers all - even freedom.