The (Bird) Brains of the Outfit

Orion and I have been writing together off and on for over twenty years. Ever since we started writing full time though, we’ve had another very opinionated, if uncredited, writing partner: my feathered companion, Abigail. Here’s her story….

I had just lost my job and had lost my fifteen-year-old kitty, Kalki, a few months beforehand. Depressed and killing time before a doctor’s appointment, I wandered into a pet store in Berkeley called Your Basic Bird. I’ve always wanted a companion bird but had never found one that I connected to. The birds were always pretty, but I never got that ‘click’ I’ve gotten with all my other pets.

Anyway, I’d just had a nice dance session with a white crested cockatoo, when I rounded the corner and saw this adorable little Timneh African Grey parrot. She immediately cocked her head at me and then bobbed up and down. I asked the store owner, Claudia, if I could hold her. She told me that Abby was usually standoffish with new people, but if she would step up for me, I could.

I opened the cage and what do you know, Abby stepped right up onto my hand. Once I had her at eye level, she surprised me further by jumping over onto my shoulder. She even nuzzled my ear. Claudia looked at me, shocked. I ended up walking around the store for about half an hour with Abby on my shoulder.

When it finally came time for me to leave for my appointment, I asked Claudia how much Abby cost since there wasn’t a price on the cage like the other birds they had for sale. Claudia nearly made me cry when she said that Abby wasn’t for sale. The owner was just boarding her there while she was out of town.

I walked around in a daze for a couple more minutes, trying to process that. Claudia kept watching me the whole time. She finally asked if I was serious about wanting Abby. I said I would need to make sure it was okay with my husbands first, but yes, definitely. So I contacted David and Scott, asking if they would mind if I got a parrot. Both of them knew that I’d wanted a bird since I was little and that my cat passing away had left a big hole in my life. They told me it was okay with them if I wanted to get Abby.

I told Claudia that I was definitely interested.

She put me in contact with Abby’s mom, Maria, a very nice woman who had raised Abby from a newborn chick. Maria and her family were moving back to Sweden, so they needed to find Abby a new home because they didn’t want to risk her health by moving a tropical bird to the Arctic circle!

The next day, I met Maria at the pet store and purchased Abby. She and her husband brought all of Abby’s cages and toys over to our house. Maria only had one other request for me: that I occasionally Skype with her so that she could see and talk to Abby. We’ve done that a few times over the last three years. Maria and her husband have even visited us when they’ve been back in the Bay Area.


So that’s the story of how our third collaborator came to live with me and my husbands. She spends most days perched on my shoulder, letting out occasional chirps and squawks. Orion and I are positive that these are her editorial comments about our writing.

Kyros and Abby

Kyros and Abby


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