Gonji by Lara Bariciak / Mum

My story ends sadly, as my beloved blue crowned conure Gonji passed away about an hour ago this morning, as I was sleeping beside him on the couch. It’s now 7:30 AM Weds. Sept. 24, 2003. It really hurts me to write this, but I have to talk about him and about his wonderful little short-lived life with me.

I rescued him back in February 2003 when I was working as a dog groomer at a pet store. A lady who came in to ask about my services told me about a blue crowned conure that she owned and was looking for a new home for him. I told her that I have 4 rescued birds (a female red sided eclectus, a female green cheeked conure, and two cockatiels) and I would be willing to come out and see her little guy in need of a home.

She owned him for the past 12 years. I arranged to go out the next day and meet her bird, whom she called “Joy”. When I met Joy, I was very appalled to find out that Joy lived in a crawlspace with only 1 light bulb, no windows, and no toys in the cage. Joy was feather plucked from the neck on down, and very very aggressive. Plus, Joy called out very very loudly with a strange “BUH-GONJE” sounding call.

I immediately took Joy from the lady, cage and all, since Joy was not willing to come out of the cage. The lady told me that Joy hated her husband, and never was taken from the cage after she seriously bit his hand a few months back. On the way home driving, I kept telling Joy that I would change her name (so that she would have a fresh start) and that she would never be abused or deprived of the bare necessities of parrot life again. Because of the sound Joy made, I named her Gonji (since all my birds’ names end with an “eee” sound…I had to keep the flow!).

I took Gonji to an avian vet for a check up and found out that Gonji was a HE and that he had chlamydia. Since it could be passed on to all my birds (now I had 6 birds with him in the picture) I had to treat all of them for 42 days by syringe! Even though I suffered from many bites, Gonji and I were ultimately growing closer in a familial bond. And Gonji was starting to enjoy life, like listening to country music (I hate it, he LOVED it!), taking showers with me, and finally stroking of his head, stepping up on my finger, and riding on my shoulder.

I think he realized he was here to stay. Home was with my bird family for good. Gonji really started to get too self-absorbed in his feather plucking, to the point where he was attacking his flesh. Without any tail or wing feathers, he would sometimes take hard falls off perches only to climb right back up to the very top again.

He was a very persistent buddy! But I couldn’t stand to see him chewing at his body, so I sought out help. I came across an avian vet in Bird Talk magazine who specializes in making and selling collars for feather pluckers. His name is Dr. Jim Gaines, and his web site is www.avianmedicalcenter.com.

His product is the space age collar. I ordered one two weeks ago, and when it arrived I followed the directions and put it on my buddy Gonji. For the first night, he tried to fight it, and it was a sleepless night for all of us (humans and birds and cats alike). But he amazingly learned to climb up his cage bars to his favorite perch, eat his pellet food and fruits, drink from his Lixit water bottle, and live without plucking at his frail body.

His feathers were growing back and I had seriously high hopes for a beautiful plummage within a matter of months. Like I mentioned, this morning Gonji passed away. I was sleeping with him beside me on the couch, where he usually liked to be with me, and he woke me with a rapid flapping of his wings possibly to let me know his time had arrived.

I am still so shocked and so sad, not knowing why he left me after only 8 months of happiness out of the 12-13 years he knew of life. Conures can live anywhere between 10 and 35 years, and I guess Gonji was called on to a more perfect world, somewhere where he won’t suffer any more feather plucking due to abusive home life or boredom. I tried my very best to make him the happiest little guy because I felt so badly for what he went through all his life. But a part of me feels guilt, thinking about what if Gonji spent the night in his cage beside his friend Rosie (the green cheeked conure).

Would he have lived another day, possibly and hopefully more, or was it something I did that caused my newest best bald buddy to be so suddenly taken from my life? All I can think about is how he flapped his little stubby wings in an effort to say goodbye….goodbye…and thank you for saving my life if only for a short time. I love you Gonji. See you my friend…..


Love always,
Lara Bariciak