The 19th of February 2011 was a sad day – it was the day when Pete disappeared. Without having a visual proof I knew a couple of days later that he would never come back, that he had gone over the rainbow.
What had happened?
I think it started already in Dec when I realized that Emily’s eggs were not fertilized any more but at that time I could not interpret this correctly. Emily continued her regular breeding cycles but each time I checked her eggs they were not fertilized. Both seemed to be perfectly healthy – not a single sign of sickness. So I assumed it was the “fault” of Emma not of Pete.
On the 3rd of February you could read in the diaries:
…Then I took the bathtub outside on the balcony and they all jumped into the water. Pete was the first and other than usual fighting for it he was simply overrun by the whole gang. Later…
2/15 Again nothing special happening.
2/18 Emma laid her first egg #62
2/19 Since this morning Pete has disappeared.
2/20 Pete is gone and I am sure he has gone over the rainbow. I am extremely sad and crying a lot because I loved him so much. He was such a personality. Our balcony family will never be the same again. There are so many memories and when I think about all these little stories I am getting even more sad.
I found something very strange in Emma’s poop today – it looked like a little red bean and I took it into a piece of paper. It was relatively soft, I tore it apart and the inside also looked like a bean but it definitely wasn’t a bean. My suspicion is that this was the second egg and Emma triggered something like an abortion because she knew that Pete was gone – could this be?
I forgot to photograph this ominous thing but then I was still too shocked about Pete’s disappearance.
2/21 I am worried about Emma and how she is going to cope with this.
2/22 I hardly can believe it – Emma is interested in Rudi and exchanges kisses with him! Now we really have problem – or not?
What had happened the last days before Pete’s disappearance?
I had realized that Pete was getting old apparently and somehow uninterested in everything that happened on the balcony. While he was aways chasing off foreign pigeons in earlier times – pigeons who did not belong on our balcony – he let go everything in the last weeks. I thought that he was getting old. He seemed to be tired like old people but I wasn’t sure. He seemed to be healthy as usual but he did not eat with such an appetite as before, was content after a few of his favourite seeds – sunflower hearts – and preferred to perch on the balcony balustrade and simply watched only everything that was going on around him.
His plumage was shiny and looked beautiful as ever but his eyes were tired somehow. I missed the spark that had always been there.
Then – during the last days of his life as I knew later – he spent an unusual long time in the nest together with Emma for several days. They were cuddling with each other much more than before and I found that quite strange. I knew Pete loved his wife very much and they were often together kissing and cuddling but now?
In the night before the 19th of February Emma laid her first egg. In the morning when I checked the balcony Pete was gone. He must have left very early. But I was not worried yet because he often flew out early in the morning and came back after a while. But then it was midday and Pete was still not back. He should have been in the meanwhile because it was his turn to sit on the egg. I became nervous and did not understand. Emma did not seem to be worried at all and that irritated me completely. I have observed several times how nervous and anxious pigeons can become when the partner went missing, even trying to find him. But Emma did not seem to bother at all. In the evening Pete still had not returned. In all these years this never happened once and I knew that he was gone. It was a shock.
I was totally hysterical and cried and did not know what to do. I knew though that it was useless to look for him. I was sure that he had gone over the rainbow. On the other hand I clung to the thought that maybe he was attracted by another female and went with her but in my heart I knew that this was a stupid thought. I simply could not accept the thought that an era was over, that Pete, our lovely Pete was gone.
Today I firmly believe that Pete knew that he was going to die and that he spent his last days with Emma so intensely to say farewell to her. That is the only explanation for me that Emma’s behaviour was so cool and unimpressed after Pete was gone. She literally did not mourn the loss but rather went on with her life. She got even rid of the second egg by expelling it out of her body, knowing that no other male would help her to raise Pete’s children (she could not know that the eggs would have been exchanged anyway of course).
Pete has taken care of everything. I am sure that he even had chosen Lucky as his successor for Emma because it took only a few days until Lucky became the new partner of Emma. You can call me insane and over-imaginative but I am absolutely certain that everything was planned.
The only thought that still haunts me is the question where did Pete go? Is there a place pigeons go where they die when they know in advance? Similar to the places elephants go or wolves who know that their time is over? Who knows?
The thought that there is a place deep in the woods somewhere comforts me a bit. But how could I know for sure? I miss Pete from all my heart and while I am typing this I am crying. I will always miss you, the way you were looking at me, so knowing, your funny little antics, your courage and your sovereignty. I love you so much Pete. Forever. You were a gift and a blessing. With you everything began…
You can read the first part of this story here