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Friday, March 6, 2015

Why a Cockatoo Almost Didn't Make it into the Second Pet Psychic

If you've seen the cover of "A Bird's Eye View of Murder", the second Frankie Chandler, Pet Psychic, mystery, you can't miss the cockatoo on the cover, but he almost didn't make it into the book.

Frankie Chandler doesn't like birds, and that may have been a spillover of my own feelings about winged creatures. It's not that I wish them any harm. They're just...creepy.

Puppies are cute. Baby birds are hairless, scrawny creatures with gigantic eyes (and no discernible eyelashes.)  My earliest memory of a baby bird was a fairly newborn robin who had fallen out of the nest and was being attacked by ants. A friend and I (after we finished screaming) moved the bird to the top of something, where I'm sure the ants finished it off later. Not a pleasant memory.

And I know, chicks are fluffy, but they're not especially cuddly. And they poop constantly.

Grown birds? Again, not cuddly. I can respect the hunting skills of a red-shouldered hawk, and it was a thrilling moment the first time I saw a  bald eagle in the wild. Birds can be beautiful and even admirable, but I can't really connect with them. (Though a cousin told me a story about chickens that makes them a shoe-in for a future Pet Psychic mystery.)  So how did a bird character even make it to my radar?

Pet Supply, a local store, has a very large cage with one such bird in it (and sometimes out of it), and the air is usually filled with sharp squawks. It is an ear-piercing sound that has me wondering if the bird would taste like chicken.

One day, I was talking to Zack, one of the store's experts, and he explained a few of the bird's quirks, They sounded annoying enough to be funny. So the cockatoo got his chance.

Tell me. Am I off-base about birds?  I admit that I've changed my mind about cats over the years. Do birds have redeeming qualities that make them wonderful companions?