The Bird Man of Telegraph Hill
January 26, 2004 4:55 PM   Subscribe

The Bird Man of Telegraph Hill: a beautiful story of a formerly homeless man, a flock of wild parrots in San Fransisco, and how their relationship transformed them both. "You see them and you have to love them..."
posted by moonbird (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's a link to Mark Bittner's memoir, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill."
posted by moonbird at 5:02 PM on January 26, 2004

nice! : >
(and it's great that the parrots are able to adapt to wild? living)
posted by amberglow at 5:10 PM on January 26, 2004

We have feral parrots in Seattle, too--as noted at know there is a flock of parrots in Maple Leaf, and that's the highest, and therefore, coldest and snowiest point in Seattle

The article linked at Mike.Whybark says there are flocks of free range parrots in Chicago--and, man, if they can make it there, they can make it anywhere!
posted by y2karl at 5:41 PM on January 26, 2004

Of course, for stories of exotic feral animals, you can't beat the
British Big Cat Society, in my opinion.
posted by y2karl at 5:56 PM on January 26, 2004

We have three in my neighborhood in Berkeley. They are like the biker gang of the local bird population, swooping in and scaring the bejesus out of everything else on the block.
posted by 2sheets at 5:58 PM on January 26, 2004

Oh, here's Big Cats in the British Isles, which comes complete with a picture of an alleged black panther.
Wild parrot attacks are possible, one might suppose, but preferable to wild panther attacks, in any case.

/end derail.

The biker gang birds around here are crows, of which we have more and more each year.
posted by y2karl at 6:04 PM on January 26, 2004

Yep, we've got them in Chicago: the Hyde Park monk parakeets, surviving quite well despite the decidedly un-tropical temperatures.
posted by me3dia at 7:35 PM on January 26, 2004

There's also a wild parakeet colony in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where I spent most of my summers as a kid.
posted by moonbird at 7:37 PM on January 26, 2004

It was my understanding that if birds can get enough food, then it's damn hard to freeze them. They're tougher than they look, I guess.

The hardy and durable parakeets of Chicago. That's just surreal.
posted by dglynn at 8:06 PM on January 26, 2004

""Now I have a girlfriend, a book and a movie -- it's hilarious, really, " said Bittner, looking out at the view of San Francisco Bay from the window of a rustic cottage he shares with his new love. It's right next door to the Greenwich Steps address where his parrot story began, in 1994. "


They were here before we arrived, and I suspect they may outlast us as well.
posted by troutfishing at 8:31 PM on January 26, 2004

All the more so for the fact that they - like humans - can do fancy things such as picking locks and talking, but - unlike humans - they can fly too.

Plus, they can crack nuts out of the shell with their powerfull beaks.

Bittner notes that they have a sense of the absurd.

They come in fancy colors too.
posted by troutfishing at 8:39 PM on January 26, 2004

At last...

I used to live at the top of Montgomery on Telegraph Hill and never understood the origin of the flocks of startled parrots that would intermittently flutter around the rooftops.

Thanks moonbird.
posted by marvin at 9:48 PM on January 26, 2004

me3dia: thanks for the parakeet link; I always thought those brightly colored birds were parrots!
posted by sodalinda at 7:52 AM on January 27, 2004

I feel obligated to mention that there's a flock in Brooklyn, near Brooklyn College. You think the ones in Chicago are tough? Ours carry guns!
posted by etc. at 10:02 AM on January 27, 2004

y2karl - I've lived in Seattle for years, within blocks of the Maple Leaf neighborhood and have yet to see a parrot - or at least a bird that I recognize as a parrot. What are their colorings/markings? I'll keep my eyes open.
posted by humbe at 11:54 AM on January 28, 2004

Here's pictures of the Maple Leaf Aratinga parakeets, as they turn out to be, which comes from this informative post at
posted by y2karl at 3:49 PM on January 29, 2004

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