friday 6 may 2011

Another of the many zebra finches, he was a son of the second brood of Romi and Juliet, born in spring or summer of 1991. But before I bought Romi for my widowed Juliet so that these chicks could happen, I had tried a spice finch whom I called Cinnamon. The pet shop owner hadn’t known whether Cinnamon was male or female, or whether spice finches and zebra finches would mate. I bought Cinnamon and took the gamble. If it had worked, the chicks would have been very interesting-looking, but it did not work. That was fine too. Cinnamon was a pleasure to know, and kicked off in me a little spurt of naming my finches for seasonings. So when, in 1991, there were a lot of young finches to name, since there was already a Cinnamon, there had to be a Sugar.

In 1993, Sugar produced some chicks with one of my females, most likely one of  his sisters,  (my face reddens to say I don’t recall which one), but these chicks did not survive. Inbred chicks sometimes don’t, and I was very surprised that this brood was even produced. For years I caged brother and sister finches with each other, and this was the only time that two of them ever decided to mate. They seemed to have some internal barrier of their own against inbreeding. I did, of course, have line-breeding (a relative of one generation mated to a relative of another). The birds had no problem with this, and I didn’t either.

I did have a female finch, Ginger, who was no blood relation to Sugar, and I caged the two of them by themselves with a nest and string and nesting food any number of times, in the hopes of getting chicks from them. Sugar with his nice medium-grey and Ginger with her white and cream and a little white dot on her forehead would, I thought, have produced some very unusual and cute chicks. But they just didn’t do it. Unacceptable to each other as mates, despite the fact that they got along very well together, and it’s far beyond me to figure out why these two birds who weren’t related and who liked each other well enough, wouldn’t mate.

Sugar was a very calm male and had none of the domination issues of his nephew Zachary, and got along with every finch he ever encountered in his years with our family. As I recall through time’s wretched fuzziness, he was slightly more prone to chatter and curiosity than some of my other males, and this of course I found endearing.

Born in 1991, dead in 1997, and no very detailed journals kept by me at that time regarding the animals. So I sit here fourteen years later with no journals to help, straining to recall more things that were unique to this particular bird, and I fail. My memory holds a great many things, and it is fuller and more efficient than the memories of many, many people I’ve known. But as good as it is, my memory is not infallible, and it can’t hold everything I wish it held. I recall, though, that I loved him totally, the way I’ve loved all of them, and that fourteen years later, I can, today, travel back in time and feel the loss of him that day in 1997.

He died in the evening, in early May. The Hale-Bopp comet was paying a prolonged visit to us at that time, and every night I would go to the canal to have some comet-time. On the evening Sugar died, I took his little body with me when I went out for my comet-gazing. I held his body up in the direction of the comet’s light, and said some words to the universe. This is Sugar, my friend, and now he’s dead. I am an atheist, as I repeatedly say. But I do believe in the science of the quantum energy field, the quantum vacuum, the invisible level at which all matter and energy potentialities are said to exist. And so I believe it is at least possible that when I held my little bird up to the comet’s light in the air over the water, that some nano-exchange of nano-particles among the damp air, and the light photons, and the elements that composed Sugar’s feathers and skin and beak, would have taken place. And in this way, my conscious act might have instigated a union of the water and the air and the light and my Sugar, all of which are part of each other anyway.

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