Bird and Horse Talk

Sparkle and Sunshine

Sparkle and Sunshine

One of our most beloved pet family members is our bright yellow cockatiel Sunshine. He’s an old-timer who has far outlived the expectancy for this breed of bird. But life has been good, and Sunshine has enjoyed it to the fullest.

Each morning, when we take the cover off his cage, Sunshine shows us his wings. We admire them, and he flaps them like a body-builder showing off his muscles.

We take him out of his cage, and he uses our fingers as a launching pad for a flight to the mantle. There he takes his morning stroll and looks out the adjacent window. He asks, “Are you my sweet baby?” Of course, we respond, “Yes.” Then he says, “I love you, sweet baby.” And we say, “We love you, too.”

He takes a morning bath in a shallow dish with warm water. He has a chat with the outside birds, retuning their whistles and song. Linda often creates a melody for him. He listens carefully and later in the day, will often repeat it with variations he has composed. Or he initiates the songwriting session by whistling a tune that Linda imitates.

We adopted Sunshine with a gray cockatiel Sparkle. Sunshine adored Sparkle. She groomed his feathers and took good care of him for many years. Sweet Sparkle wasn’t as hardy as her more cantankerous mate. One night, after a prolonged illness, Sparkle passed away. Sunshine stood vigil over her, walking round and round her body, wailing (crying) over his loss.

After Sparkle left this physical world, Sunshine would stand on the mantel alone and follow a movement in the air. It was similar to the trajectory Sparkle used to have when she flew around the living room. We suspect that spiritually the part of Sparkle that did not die, the soul, came to visit and comfort Sunshine. After a couple of years he stopped seeing what only he could see.


Recently we read a book about a special bird. We enjoyed tremendously WESLEY THE OWL: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien (Free Press, 2008). It tells about the journey of a rescued barn owl as he and biologist Stacey O’Brien forged a most unusual and satisfying relationship.

Stacey writes, “One evening I was lying down and rubbing him [Wesley] under his wings. Wesley pushed with his feet so that he was lying on my chest with his head up under my chin, his beak sleepily nibbling my throat. Then he rustled a bit and slowly began to open both delicate golden wings, stretching them as far as they would go and laying them across my shoulders. He slept that way for a long time and I stayed awake in awe.

“It was an owl hug. I hoped he would do it again. He did, and this vulnerable position became his new way of cuddling. I never got over the wonder of it and I often felt tears stinging my eyes. This complicated wild soul had stretched his golden wings over me in complete trust. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything in the world. Not for anything in the world.”

Don’t you just love books that make reinforce what you already know — animals are the most gracious of friends?

horseswithmissionWe’d like to share with you a touching moment we just had this week. In our mailbox we found the first author copies from the publication of our new horse book. The stories in this new book take our breath away with their sincerity and strange beauty.

We hope you’ll consider pre-ordering HORSES WITH A MISSION: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service (New World Library, September 1, 2009). It’s available at (, Barnes & Noble (, Borders Books & Music (, New World Library ( and other online and independent bookstores.

“With hearts and minds open, we can learn from the wild and domesticated horses in this wonderful book.”
–Joe Camp, author of THE SOUL OF A HORSE and creator of the films starring the canine superstar Benji

“This collection of stories will remind anyone who has ever had a horse as a best friend, confidante, and soul mate of what a special gift that can be.”
–Carson Kressley, Emmy Award-winning TV host, designer, and author of OFF THE CUFF

“You don’t need to be an avid equestrian like me to truly enjoy this book, as the stories resonate with a spirit of hope and harmony that is shared by all creatures great and small.”
–Alison Eastwood, actress, director, and producer

“The spiritual and physical bond between horses and the humans who love them often reaches mystical proportions. Nothing celebrates that very special relationship more movingly or with greater clarity than HORSES WITH A MISSION.”
–Steven D. Price, editor of THE WHOLE HORSE CATALOG

“Through their courage, sensitivity, and kindness, the horses in this book become our inspiration and guides.”
–Michael Mountain, former president of Best Friends Animal Society

“This important book will spark your imagination and inspire you to embrace the magical moments in life that happen every single day. This book is a joy to read.”
–Melanie Sue Bowles, author of HOOF PRINTS and founder of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network