Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

My sweet little lovebird, Yuuki, died at the end of last week. His health had been declining over the past few months and though he seemed to be recovering from a recent stroke, on Friday morning things suddenly took a turn for the worse. He suffered a series of seizures that took his life. I was home at the time, a bit of timing for which I am extremely grateful, and I held him as his tiny life ebbed away.

I am deeply saddened by this loss because though Yuuki was just a small bird he’s been a big part of me for the past ten years. He came into my life as a shy and skittish ten week old who was terrified of people, especially their hands. He was a green peach-faced lovebird at the time, and through some form of magic eventually changed his colour to bright yellow. As he grew older it was beautiful to see him develop a much bolder, cheekier, and goofier personality, but always with a sweet temperament.

I thought it had been too long since the internet had last seen Yuuki...

Yuuki made the move from Ontario to Vancouver with me, tucked into a small travel cage as we flew across the country. (His longest flight ever!) He made it feel more like home while I adjusted to life in a new place, and we were never far apart in my series of tiny apartments.

Rarely has Yuuki looked so magnificent...

He loved to stand on people’s heads (especially mine) because it was the best way to be social and have a good view of the action. He loved splashing in water and would make do with the tiniest drinking glass if he could stick his head into it. Yuuki was completely obsessed with the fish bowl when we had goldfish and would perch on the edge drinking and splashing in the water oblivious to the fish.

Bird bath aftermath
Yuuki has his morning bath in the fishbowl
It's hard to clean the fish bowl when there's a lovebird in the way.

After Boris and I moved in together we had the habit of allowing Yuuki to hang out at the table with us during meals. He would inspect the plates for imaginary crumbs, and sometimes attempt to bathe in our mugs of coffee and tea. He was always very bossy with Boris, biting at his hand and reminding him of his status of low bird in the flock.

Sweet little boy

As Yuuki’s health declined his colour began to change from yellow to red, which was an indication of issues with his liver. He also lost the ability to fly, and after the stroke he became really uncoordinated with his footing. He wasn’t the same independent little bird anymore, and wanted to sit and cuddle into my neck or be held constantly. I hated seeing him this way and though his loss is devastating, I’m glad he didn’t have go on like this indefinitely.


Boris helped me bury Yuuki in a lovely spot in the back garden of Anne and Horst’s place on Bowen Island. I couldn’t imagine leaving him anywhere else but there.

There are many people who met Yuuki over the years, or became familiar with him through Flickr and Instagram. I would love to hear from you if you have a special memory or funny story about Yuuki. It would be a small comfort as I continue to grieve.

11 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

  1. greg says:

    Oh Rachael, I’m so very sorry for your loss. Seeing Yuuki show up on flickr was always cheering and smile-making. It was so clear from your photos that Yuuki had a personality as vivid as his plumage. I’d never given much thought to birds as companion animals, but it was perfectly obvious that you and Yuuki had a unique and meaningful relationship.

  2. Irina says:

    Oh sweet Yuuki, RIP, so sad to hear the news… The whole time I’ve known you Rachael, Yuuki was part of your life, so for me he was part of you, a bit like a coiffe. My favorite memory of him was when you posted a video of how he was bathing in a glass of water, this was the first time that I saw him alive, so to speak. That video made my day and all I could think about was “peach schnapps”, thanks to his orange and red color, mixed with the softness of his plumage. I will forever remember him as your love bird, literally.

  3. Andrea says:

    Our little @blindcharlie couldn’t see, but he certainly knew who was in charge when Yuuki was around. Yuuki would squawk and make a scene when Charlie got too close.

    When we bird sat, Yuuki would also chirp at Mark and pretend he was going to bite him, but then would actually just lick his finger.

    So much personality in such a small package.

    Goodbye Yuuki. We’ll miss you!

  4. Ben says:

    Yuuki was like a friend. He had his own energy and personality. I’m sad to see him go too but happy to know he’s resting in a pretty great spot.

  5. Pierre says:

    Yuuki was a delightful little guy with a large personality. I’m glad I was able to meet him the few times I did. He was very social, finger fear and all. I remember he liked to be talked to, and he flew to me a few times, as long as my fingers stayed clear! So sorry for your loss, Rachael. He’s a small bird but he’ll leave a big hole.


  6. Siobhan says:

    So sorry to hear about your loss, R. I always enjoyed hearing about Yuuki’s latest antics, seeing him interact with water (glasses of water, the fishbowl, splash splash splash) and always steal the show no matter what else was going on around him. I also loved how much he made you laugh. Yuuki will be missed. xo

  7. Anne says:

    We had Yuuki here on occasions when Boris and Rachael would visit us for a few days, especially over Christmas. One memorable event was Christmas a few years ago, when there was an extraordinary amount of snow, the side roads in Vancouver were not cleared and it was nearly impossible to get through. We did manage to pile everyone and everything into the car, including Yuuki’s cage and Yuuki in his little travel case, and safely reached our destination on Bowen Island. We will miss his chirping next Christmas.

  8. shelley says:

    I am so, so sorry to hear about Yuuki’s passing. What a blessing to have him in your life for so many years. I still have the little Yuuki feathers you included in our collage materials exchange, they are so sweet and make me smile when I look at them. Big hugs through the computer.

  9. filmgoerjuan says:

    I’m so sorry, Rachael.

    Years ago, if you had asked me about birds as pets, I would have said something like “I don’t know. They don’t really have a personality, do they?”

    How wrong I was.

    Yuuki was such a sweet bird, full of personality and his love for you was apparent to anyone who spent 5 minutes with the two of you together. I have many fond memories of him tweeting away, pecking at my fingers, and then pestering his rope toy. Perhaps my fondest memory is that time we were playing around with your studio lights and trying to get shots of Yuuki flying towards the camera. He was having none of it, preferring to perch on his owner, his friend, or as I called the photo at the time: “Best Friends”

  10. stephanie vacher says:

    oh no, yuuki :'[
    He was so loving and playful! I remember coming over for that cheesemaking and pizza night, where the cheese was so ridiculously hot that we all took turns burning our hands, and the gloves really weren’t helping very much. Yuuki spent the time frolicking in the fishbowl water and chirping as though he was making fun of us silly humans who were willing to scorch our hands just to make cheese.

  11. Stephen says:

    Sorry to hear about poor Yuuki. May he always live on in your many fond and happy memories of him.

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