Coping with the death of your beloved pet bird

Mourning the loss of your pet bird and how to cope

Unfortunately the time will come when you have to lay your pet bird to rest. Your feathered friend will hopefully lead a long and healthy life and die of old age, or you may have to go through the suffering of an illness with your pet and an earlier death than expected. Either way, the grief and loss that you experience can be devastating.  How do you cope with the loss?

As a bird lover I find it hard to understand the attitude of so many people at the loss of someone’s pet bird, be it the smaller variety like a budgie or cockatiel, or a bigger parrot such as a cockatoo:  “Oh, it’s just a cockatiel”, “You can buy another bird tomorrow”, “It’s not like you’ve lost a relative or something.”  This of course does little to help you during the grieving process.

These people’s comments cannot be further from the truth.  We’re talking about your beloved pet bird – a companion that gave you unconditional love for 10 to 50 years, that you trained from a 3-month old chick, that wandered around after you wherever you ventured in the house and shared food from your plate each day!

The passing of your pet bird can affect you terribly.  Everyone handles their grief differently and you may only take a few days to come to terms with your loss or you may take a few months.  The time will come though when your anguish diminishes, to be replaced by fond memories and smiles and laughter at some of your feathered friend’s antics throughout the years.

Here are some ways to help you cope with the loss of your bird:

  • Take a photo of your pet bird at rest – due to your hurting you probably won’t be able to look at the developed photo for a while, but in time this photo can be comforting to some people.
  • If you can bury your bird in your garden, back yard, or at a family home, plant a special tree or flower over the grave, or place a garden ornament or stone there.
  • Hold a small service when you bury your bird.
  • Pull out all of the photos you have of your gorgeous bird – make up a new special photo album, a scrapbook, a mural – the time it actually takes to do this helps with your grieving.
  • Choose your favorite photo, have it enlarged and buy a special frame for it.
  • Reminisce the good times.
  • Search the internet – there are quite a few websites that allow you to post memorials, or offer pet loss chat rooms.  Try or
  • If you need someone to talk to, some veterinary schools provide pet loss counseling, or you may wish to join a bird club where you can talk among fellow bird enthusiasts.
  • Make a donation in your pet bird’s name to a bird society or bird rescue center.

If you have a friend whose pet bird dies, send them a sympathy card and add a few words of your own. Many veterinary practices do this and it is surprising the comfort that this gesture brings.

Finally the time will come when you may decide to get yourself another bird.  Once again this is personal and you may be able to cope with a new bird a few days after the passing of your bird, or it may be a year before you wish to obtain another one.  This addition will never replace your old feathered companion, it will be a new pet with a personality all of its own, a new feathered friend with whom you will hopefully spend the next 15 or more years of your life.