Parrots, Birdcages and a Giveaway

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Hello everyone.  Winnie Griggs here.  I’m very excited about the recent release of The Road Home, the new novella I wrote as part of the Journeys of the Heart collection.  This story is one I’ve been wanting to write for some time, but it’s a little bit of a departure for me.  For one thing Anisha, my heroine, has a mother who was born in India and a father who is an American merchant sea captain.

For another, I pictured her with a pet that was a bit out of the ordinary, something to match her own exotic appearance.  And since her father was a sea captain who sailed all over the world, I wasn’t limited to animals in her native country. After trying out several animals, I finally settled on a parrot.  But this in turn spurred me to additional research.  I never realized there were so many species!  From small to quite large, from colorful to drab-in fact there are more than 350 species that belong to the order parrots are members of.  It was quite fun to browse through all the pictures I could find of these colorful, exotic birds.

But I had to narrow my search so I came up with a list of criteria for what characteristics I wanted her feathered companion to have.  He needed to be long-lived, intelligent, loyal, imposing and able to talk (not all parrots can).  I finally settle on the African Grey parrot.  African grey’s, while not the most colorful of the parrot family, have a lot to recommend them.  They are long-lived, in fact have been known to live for upwards of 80 years.  But more importantly, they are considered the most intelligent of the parrot family and can develop quite an extensive vocabulary.  They have been described as having  “… the intelligence level of up to a five-year old with the temperament of a two-year old…”  Bingo – this was exactly what I was looking for.  And thus Anisha’s companion, Sundar (which means ‘beautiful’ in Hindi) came to life for me.

Parrot

 

My research into parrots, however, led me down a fun rabbit trail of additional research.  During all of my digging into keeping pet parrots, I found some really gorgeous Victorian birdcages. Some of them were unbelievably extravagant. You can get a peak at some of them using this link.

 

 

So what about you?  Do you have first hand experience with parrots?  If not, how do you feel about them as potential pets – can you picture yourself with one?  Leave a comment today and be entered into the drawing for a copy of the novella collection that contains my story, The Road Home.

 

 

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White Spacer

 Here’s a short excerpt from the opening of the story:

Where had they gotten off to?

Wyatt Murdoch’s irritation was turning into worry. This was the third time his two young charges had tried to slip away from him on their journey from Indiana to Texas, and they’d only made it as far as Arkansas.  Thank goodness they’d arrive at their destination tomorrow.  Of course, that assumed he found them before the train left.  This was the longest they’d managed to keep out of his sight and the train would be resuming its journey in less than twenty minutes.

Why did they keep running away when they had no place to go? And how could a ten year old girl and eight year old boy have so completely disappeared when he’d only turned his back for a moment?

He supposed he couldn’t really blame them for wanting to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and warm spring sunshine, especially when they’d been cooped up on the train for four very long days.  But they could have just asked him.

He scanned the horizon and caught sight of the circus tents off in the distance. Of course. That would have drawn Hallie and Jonah like ants to a picnic.

He started off in that direction at a fast walk. If they missed the train because of this nonsense…

He was some distance from the circus tents when he caught sight of his charges. But they weren’t alone. A woman, small in stature but big in presence, walked between them holding onto a hand of each. There was something faintly exotic-looking about her—it had something to do with the warm golden color of her skin and the shape of her eyes.

There was also the fact that she wore some kind of padded leather affair on her left shoulder, and regally perched upon that shoulder was what looked like a large gray parrot.

Someone associated with the circus, no doubt. Was she an actual performer or just an assistant?

More importantly, had she caught the children trying to sneak into the big top or one of the side shows? Or worse yet, had they gotten too close to her parrot and hurt it in some way?

He hoped she was looking for their caretaker—namely him—and not the sheriff. But from the frown on her face and stiff determination of her posture, she was obviously unhappy about something.

He quickened his pace. “You two have a lot to answer for,” he said as soon as he reached them.

But it was the woman who responded. “You are the person responsible for these children?”

He noticed that she had a faint accent of some sort, but he couldn’t quite place it. “I am. And I apologize for whatever they—”

She cut through his apology. “It appears you are not doing a very good job of watching out for them.”

Her accusation and tone got his back up. “Keeping up with them is not the easiest job in the world.”

“So watching over them is your job? Are you their nanny?”

“Are you their nanny?” The parrot squawked. “Are you their nanny?”

There were muffled giggles from the children at the bird’s echoed words, which Wyatt chose to ignore.

He tugged on his cuff, trying to maintain his dignity. “No, I am not their nanny,” he said. “I am their escort. Now if you will just hand them over, we have a train to catch.”

If anything, the woman clasped their hands tighter. “They tell me they ran away because you have not been treating them well.”

Wyatt glanced from Hallie to Jonah, making his displeasure clear. Another loud squawk from the bird did nothing to smooth his temper. “What you should know about these two runaways is that they are not only slippery, but they also lie.”

Her frown only deepened. “Those are harsh words to use about children, sir.”

How in the world had he gotten into this ridiculous discussion with a circus performer? Before he could respond, she turned to the children.

Her expression was that of a schoolmarm handing a failing grade to a favorite student. “Have you been telling me untruths?”

Both children shook their heads vigorously.

“He doesn’t let us do anything fun and he’s always fussing,” Hallie said.

“Anyone can tell he doesn’t even like us,” Jonah added.

The woman once again turned an accusing look his way.

But it was his turn to cut her off before she could speak. “That is neither here nor there, madam. It is my job to escort these children safely into the keeping of their great-uncle, and I intend to do just that. Now, I don’t have time to stand here and argue with you. We need to be on that train when it pulls out from the station.” He held out his left hand, keeping his right carefully down at his side. “Come along you two.”

The children looked up to their circus-performer friend, obviously ready to ask for her support. Had they formed such a quick bond because of the exciting nature of her life? Or was it just that they thought anyone better than he?

To his surprise, the stranger gave them a shake of her head. “Go on with your escort as he asks. It’s his job to keep you safe. And you should apologize for causing him worry, even if you don’t think he likes you. He may not be the most pleasant of people, but he is trying to look out for you, and you should respect him for that, not make his task more difficult.” She shot him a quick glance, then turned back to the children. “Besides, I’m sure he’s not really a bad man at heart.”

Was that condescension in her tone? His irritation changed to shock when the children came to him without further argument.

“We’re sorry, Mr. Murdoch,” Hallie said. “Aren’t we, Jonah?”

Jonah nodded.

Wyatt was dumbfounded. How had she gotten these two mischief makers to obey her without argument?divider002a

 

 

 

JOTH_mediumJourneys Of The Heart

From merry old England to the wilds of Texas, take a delightful journey into adventure and romance in these novellas written by authors Camille Elliot, Winnie Griggs and Erica Vetsch.  In these three stories you’ll travel alongside a feisty spinster, an English lord, a trail boss, a determined widow, and an unusual train companion—a parrot.

The Road Home by Winnie Griggs

Wyatt Murdoch feels his life is over—his career certainly is.  In fact, he’s agreed to escort two orphans halfway across the country mainly because he needs a distraction.  But when the task proves more than he bargained for, he seeks help from the exotic beauty with the talkative parrot who befriended the children when they slipped away from him.

Anisha Hayes, who’s hiding wounds of her own, has left her uncomfortable home to seek adventure.  However, something about this unorthodox trio touches her heart, so when Wyatt asks for her help she agrees to put her plans on hold to accompany them. After all, it’s only a temporary detour.

But when they reach their destination, both Wyatt and Anisha find it’s not as easy to part ways as they’d planned…

Winnie Griggs
Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

37 Comments

  1. I think parrots are fun to watch, but I wouldn’t want one. I would love to have an old cage though to decorate with, as they are lovely. Enjoyed the interview.

    1. Hi Lucy – thanks for stopping by. Those Victorian cages are lovely aren’t they?

  2. Friends of ours have a parrot. He is quite funny. But I have a cat and I am not sure they would do well together.

    1. Hi Debra – LOL, you’re probably right about parrots and cats not mixing well in the same household.

  3. I can’t remember what kind of bird my mother-in-law has. But it’s a smaller one. He used to be at the Dallas Zoo where she was a volunteer in the bird section. He stressed really bad when he was around the other birds and would pluck his own feathers out. He spent more time off display then on. So, they gave him to her and she has had him in her house since I have known her (15 years).

    1. Janine, how lovely of your m-i-l to take in this overly-stressed animal. I hope it proved to be a sweet pet for her

  4. I grew up with a friend who had a parakeet. I remember cleaning the cage, putting down paper, and cleaning the floor around the cage…. messy, giving it birdseed and water. I always thought/felt it was trapped in that cage. It always tried to get out.

    I think a larger bird would be even messier and louder. Not the pet of choice for me.

    1. Hi Laurie. All pets can be messy in one way or the other, but you’re right, they can be mighty loud. And yes, if you don’t have provisions for them to have a place to fly free occasionally it can be very sad for them.

  5. I’m not a bird person. I have always had a cat. If I had a bird now my cat would be hiding under the bed. She is petrified of everything, even the plastic Walmart bag.

    1. Hi Cathy. And LOL about your cat being afraid of Walmart plastic bags – poor baby!

  6. I really love all types of animals. I’ve never had a bird of any kind but I’m sure I’d love it – since I have 5 inside cats I’m afraid I won’t be getting one any time soon lol.

    1. Hi catslady! 5 inside cats – wow! I can see where you miight think a bird wouldn’t fit in well 🙂

  7. My family has four parakeets. At one point we had six.

    1. Hello Ashley. Oh wow – four parakeets. I should have contacted you when I was writing this story 🙂

  8. We had a parakeet when I was a teenager. Love all the different cages so cool.

    1. Hi Kim. Thanks for stopping by. Parakeets are so colorful, I love just looking at them.

  9. Great post, Winnie. I love all of my pets, and that includes birds and parakeets. We had a parakeet who was so beloved, and he talked — wonderful. At one point I had 11 cats and 2 dogs. Unfortunately, our cats grew old and one by one we lost them to old age. Same with our dogs. Now we only have 1 cat and 1 dog. But as soon as we’re settled in at our new home and location, we will probably open our home again to having many animals. I have loved them all.

    1. Karen, what an amazing array of pets you’ve had. And know they’ve brought lots of joy to your life. Good luck with the many future pets I know you’ll have once you’re able to invite them in again.

  10. I love pets, but I can’t have bird’s. I think i am phobic about their wings ! Don’t want them near me. They are pretty though and I also love the cages.
    loved the excerpt from your novella ! Thank you !

    1. Hello Jackie. It’s true that not all pets are for all people – but there are so many to chose from that it’s great we can all find the ones that we are most comfortable with. And thanks for the kind words about my story.

  11. One of the best gifts I ever received was a parrot around my 11th b-day. His name was Oscar and he was my best friend! He would play games with me, guard my room from unwanted guests, give me kisses, etc. Years later I found out he was a she when he laid an egg, LOL. Sadly I lost him to an illness about 10 years ago, I miss him!

    1. Colleen – funny about finding out your he was a she when she laid an egg! So sorry you had to lose her much too early.

  12. Colleen, I’m sorry about Oscar. No matter how long ago, it’s always hard to lose a pet.

    Winnie, Thank you for the giveaway!

    1. Clleen, you’re quite welcome. Thanks for stopping by

  13. Oh what beautiful birdcages! Love the snippet, it only makes me want to read it all the more. Lol

  14. I like parrots… as long as they are friendly 😉 I’m not a pet person since we take road trips often, but I could see myself with a bird if I was to get a pet.

    1. Hello Heidi. When my kids were young and still at home we had a wide assortment of pets – dogs, cats, fish, turtles, sheep, hamsters, even frogs. But nowadays we are pet free, except for the occasional stray cat who takes up residence under our house for a season. But we’ve never had any sort of bird.

  15. I had a specticle amazon parot years ago. He was a very fun bird but loud. His name was Chico. We had him for several years, he could say Chico pretty bird and by, by and wave his hand. I finaly sold Chico because I couldn’t keep up taking care of him and a three year old boy. I word full time and was trying to take care of my son and the bird, one had to go so I let the bird go. I still miss him though. Later in life my son had a pet cockatiel that he was very fond of but we lost him to illness.

    1. Sounds like you have quite a bit of experience with birds as pets. And LOL on the choice you had – I think keeping your son instead of the parrot was the right way to go!

  16. I’ve not had a lot of contact with large parrots but we used to have Conures and Quakers in the store I work in. They have a ton of personality in such little bodies! I couldn’t wear earrings when ‘wearing’ a bird because they’d snatch the earring right out of my ear!

    1. Hi Glenda. Sounds like you have some fun stories you could tell about your experiences. I know who to contact if I ever want to feature a bird in a story again 🙂

  17. Great post and excerpt. The intelligence of a 5-year old and temperament of a 2-year old – that’s great! No experience with parrots. All we have is an old Pug with the (hidden) intelligence of a genius and the temperament of a cranky old man. He and hubby are aging together ;-(. Thanks for the giveaway. Would love to read this.

    1. Hi Sally. Glad you enjoyed the post. LOL on the description of your Pug – I can hear the affection in your ‘voice’

  18. I know very little about keeping a parrot. I do know not to keep it near a phone. A friend had a talking bird which she had near the phone and no one could hear her for all the noise it made. It argued with her siamese cat constantly and there was absolutely no peace until she moved it to another room.

    1. Hi Whitney. Good pointer about not keeping your parrot near the phone – it makes perfect sense.

  19. No parrots.. did have a cockatiel once.. messy bird & he didn’t like me!

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