I really have no idea what happened... He was always so active and energetic, always singing and flirting. He was the sweetest little bird... one of the tamest in the flock and always so agreeable.
And really, I hadn't noticed anything unusual with him whatsoever until two nights ago (around 11pm-12am at night), when I heard peeping (like a chick). I went outside to figure out what was going on, and saw Bert clung to the wall of the aviary, continually peeping. I was alarmed, and checked the other birds. Normally, the six in the aviary all conglomerate and sleep close to each other in the same corner; that night they were scattered everywhere, some high, some low, one even on the ground, and Bert was just there, peeping.
The pair in the breeding cage were just fine, nothing unusual. I checked the surrounding area for and all sides of the cage for signs of an animal that could have startled them; there was nothing but my cats that had followed me outside.
The next morning, I found his body on the aviary floor. One of the other birds was near it, fiddling with his feathers. I shooed her away and examined his body for signs of attack (did she kill him?) or anything else that would give obvious signs of death. There was nothing, not a scratch or anything.
Then I broke down and cried...
Now I'm just hoping that whatever caused his untimely death wasn't contagious; I have seven other birds and eight eggs to worry about. The thing is, most are pet store birds (of the six initially in the aviary... Four pet store and two breeder). Three of the store and the two breeder were purchased in the last two months. My lack of 4-5 spare cages lead me to forgo quarantine, which I know is a foolish, irresponsible thing to do. That being said, I had tried to purchase vigorous, strong birds, and I've been fussing over everything they did/do, especially in those first thirty days. But again, there was no real, telltale sign of illness; there were some watery droppings but I'd also completely overturned their diet (seed junkies to pellet-based + daily veggies multiple times a day), and a few occasional sneezes, but it can also get dusty in there, due to the sand in the bottom. Either way, I havent seen either of these "symptoms" in the past couple of weeks.
I return to college next month and hope to get a job, and I plan to put some money aside for vet bills.
Anyway, I really loved Bert, and I'm praying that my beliefs in the afterlife are, well, true, and that Bert's truly free and in perfect peace now, hopefully flying high and singing his heart out. I have a reoccurring fantasy that he's existing in a flock of all my previously departed birds, specifically Ivy, my dear little gray recessive pied hen from my childhood that also departed far too soon, and that I still miss far too much...
Thank you everyone for your kind words.
7 budgies: Gwenevere, Morgan le Fay, Coral, Lola, Monocle, Trooper, Phoebus
4 quail: Dale, Ale, Chip, and Whale