The morning after taking the photographs below, I found E holding the bird in his hands. Then he looked up and said, "He's dying."
It was a painful shock -- even though I could see right away that there was something wrong with the little body. E said he'd found him that way a few moments earlier. There was no sign of any external injury. The eyes were shut but he seemed to be experiencing some type of convulsions. It was very sad to be unable to do anything to help.
We wrapped him in a bit of soft cloth and then I just held him in my hand till the tiny whirring sensation that signified he was still alive gradually ceased. It didn't take very long, perhaps ten minutes. I am glad that at the very least, it didn't happen in the darkness and all alone. It occurred to me that perhaps the saddest of fates is to be alone at the time of death. It must happen to so many people! Of course, one could argue that it hardly matters, since the dying person is not going to "know" -- since he/she will then be dead ...
We're guessing that it was the diet that did in our little guest -- we should've been able to hunt up a few spiders or at least some caterpilars to feed him. Instead we were lulled into complacence by the fact that he did appear to be managing on the tiny scraps of meat we were feeding him -- in the sense that we could see it was certainly being processed, judging by the little white deposits that appeared at regular intervals. Alas, we were wrong.
I will remember a sweet moment: I was lying on the bed, napping, when he flew down from his favourite perch, on the ceiling fan (off, of course) and landed on my tummy. Then he just stood there and had a bit of snooze too!