Mickey came to our family fourteen years ago at seven years old, adopted from a bird sanctuary run by the late Nancy Weaver. Mickey's original owner had developed lung cancer and died, leaving Mickey with the owner's wife, the grey unfortunately remembering all the challenging sounds that came from her owner having the disease.
With Mickey's owner passing, the wife didn't want the grey around anymore because of all the sounds Mickey repeated, and brought her to Nancy's Bird Sanctuary.
One of my sons, a teenager at the time, found Mickey on the Web available at the sanctuary. Nancy had first thought about having Mickey mate with her male African Grey, Popeye, but Popeye wanted nothing to do with the relationship telling Mickey when put into the cage, "Get out, get out."
Concerning adoptions, upon meeting any parrot that was up for adoption, Nancy would require the entire family to meet the bird, some birds having lost most of their feathers. Once taking some successful time with the bird of their choice, a family could then take their new pet home.
Once we paid the adoption and care costs, Nancy put together the paperwork and had Mickey injected with a tiny ID chip.
On our first night at home with Mickey, we quickly discovered her unusual sounds. In talking with Nancy the next day, she advised us to not pay attention to the sounds and eventually they would go away. While they did over time, when someone in the house would blow their nose memories would flood back to Mickey for a few seconds.
Over the years Mickey became a fixed member of the family and watched as the kids moved on with our later retiring to North Carolina. Mickey would dance to singing and loved to give sounds into our North Carolina phone to delighted listeners, including grand kids.
Then at the end of March 2014, Mickey developed a serious breathing problem. The available emergency Aviary vet kept her for two days with an x-ray and blood test, discovering a lung infection but also concerned with her age. We brought Mickey home with medicine that kept her alive for about ten more days. On the morning of April 1, we found Mickey next to her heater laying across two perches, breathing hard and unable to hold up her own body weight.
We tried to give her some medicine with the syringe, but it simply dripped out of her mouth. I then sat in a chair and put Mickey on my shoulder with a warm towel wrapped around her body. Her breathing eased and then slowed down. In about ten minutes she put her head down on my shoulder and gave up the spirit. I then held her body for a half hour, stunned since we always thought Mickey would out live us, our having her in our will.
Connie found a clear plastic shoe box, putting Mickey's body into an attractive cloth bag and then into the box, which I sealed with aluminum tape. We put her grave where we could see it from the back porch. Connie later planted some Forget-Me-Not flowers the Charlotte Street animal hospital had sent with a card.
Mickey was 21 when she passed, the vet advising us that domesticed greys seemed to be dying ten years earlier then they used to, now living from 20-30 years instead of 30-40 years.
As a final note, Nancy Weaver passed on before we retired to North Carolina. She had told me, when finding out about her medical problem, that she was looking forward to watching over the Lord's parrots. We suspect Mickey may have found Nancy on the morning of April 1, after laying her head down on my shoulder she closed her eyes for the last time finding obvious peace.