We got Elmo
in 2006 when I was just 11. We sat for ages watching the babies and how they interacted with each other and picked him because he seemed so calm. When they breeder removed him from the cage he perched straight away and just sat there staring serenely at us.
We'd had all sorts of pets, but never a budgie. All of my family became incredibly attached very quickly. We got him out of the cage all the time, talked, played and treated him like a member of the family. All of our friends loved him and he was quite well known among friend groups as being the "smart, friendly budgie".
He'd say hello as you walked in the door, jump onto your plate during dinner and try and steal food, give kisses and loved a good chat.
When he was about 8 years old I noticed his normally bright blue cere was turning brown. I took him to the vet, but she said he was a healthy weight and was in good spirits so not to worry about it. Over the next 6 months he got slowly more lethargic, didn't want to come out of his cage and slept all the time.
I took him back to the vet time and time again and eventually she concluded that he was just "getting old". She told me to keep him comfortable, warm and well fed and he'd pass when he was ready. He started having trouble going to toilet and feces kept building up around his vent. He was fluffed up all the time and would fall like a lead weight every time he tried to fly. It was horrible.
Eventually he became a complete shell of his former self. Quite, introverted, cranky. He was always shaking, so one day I took him out of the cage and laid him on my chest under my shirt (he'd never let me do this). I honestly thought he was going to pass away there and then. He was almost immobile and was taking very shallow breathes.
I knew something had to be seriously wrong so I made an appointment with a specialist avian vet for the next day. He took one look at him and knew straight away that he had cancer. He said the tumor was about the size of a golf ball and squishing all his organs. Which is just horrible to imagine. He was put down the next day.
The morale of the story is to always act on warning signs that seem insignificant and always
go to an avian vet straight away. He said if we'd caught it in it's early stages there's a possibility we could have operated. The cere was the warning sign that we missed. The tumor was sitting on his testis - causing testosterone production to decrease - and therefore changing the colour of his cere from blue to brown (like a female). Although a cere changing color could just be fungal infection, so it's good to get it checked right away.
He was a great friend and I miss his company and the laughter he brought to us all. I hope this is a good word of warning to new budgies owners.
Budgies don't show signs of sickness until it's usually too late, it's up to you as their owner to know what to look for and act quickly.
Love your babies and keep them close!