Ode to Vincenzo

Vincenzo, one of my male Zebra Finches, died Friday. Or at least that’s when I found him. He had been sick for perhaps a month or more. Confusing the issue was Fabrizio, the original Zebra Finch and if not Vincenzo’s father, his grandfather or even great-grandfather, who is also not feeling well, which I attribute to his age of more than 10 years. Fabrizio has started singing again, however feebly, but Vincenzo had been quiet for such a long time, I had all but forgotten about him.

That is, until I spent three hours in the dentist’s chair Saturday morning. Left with my mind to play Bach’s A Minor English Suite over and over again, I was also frustrated that Fabrizio was still singing and I had a dead Zebra Finch I had not identified. It was only under the clarity of local anesthesia and not being distracted by going anywhere that I suddenly realized the missing bird was indeed Vincenzo. I said “Oh!” and the dentist stopped whatever it was she was doing, asking me if I was in pain. No, not at all, I explained, I had just figured out that Vincenzo was dead.

I’m feeling terrible that I did not have the presence of mind over the last week to tune into his individual absence while he was still struggling to stay alive. One morning a few days ago he was flopping around on the floor, seemingly too weak to fly, and I picked him up and put him in the bottom of the first finch cage, so he could eat if he was so inclined, or if he was going to die, it was a “safe” place. When I came home later that day he was out of the cage. It’s possible he went off to die where I found him Friday night, tucked under the skirt of the futon cover…

Now I know the little ball of feathers I saw sitting tightly wound up into itself the last couple weeks was Vincenzo trying to stay warm. Only a few days ago he was huddled together with Fabrizio, as they took to caring for each other that way.

I managed to find a tape recorded January 14, 2012 with Vincenzo. I was just starting to revive Albeniz’s Tango, and he’s singing with it. Only he hadn’t been singing his entire song lately, just the first part of it. The whole song went, “I’m a Zebra Finch, and my name is Vince, Vincenzo, Cenzo, Zebra Finch.” Here he’s only singing the first part of it, over and over again, “I’m a Zebra Finch, and my name is Vince.” Adolfo is singing very loudly in the beginning of the piece, but the rest of the recording is Vincenzo’s. He is quieter, probably farther away from the microphone. He also solos a little bit after I stop playing.

Now my Zebra Finch population is now down to eight birds. Seven males and one female. The surviving males are Fabrizio, Adolfo, Beniamino, Pietro, Rodolfo, Zorro and Gregorio. They all still join in the dawn chorus, but it’s diminished considerably from the old days.

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