The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

I’m really not a bird person. I’m not really much of a documentary person either, for that matter. But I checked out The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill on a whim after a brief trip to San Francisco. I was intrigued by the story I’d heard about a group of feral parrots living in the city.

Violence, romance, mystery, politics, heartbreak. This film—surprisingly enough—has it all.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill features one human, Mark Bittner, and many birds. Mark, a long-haired, scraggly-bearded, just-scraping-by musician forged a very unusual connection with a flock of wild parrots who found a home in the green spaces of his neighborhood. He became a feeder, friend and advocate for the birds. Mark and talented film maker Judy Irving are excellent guides to the world of wild parrot life.

The birds themselves are colorful characters (quite literally), and they somehow manage to steal every single scene. Although watching how the parrots navigate the perils of urban living was interesting, their personalities and personal lives kept me watching. Each parrot has a name, unique personality and place in the social structure. My favorites were Picasso and Sophie, the inseparable lovers.

Who knew parrots had such meaningful social lives? Maybe I am a bird person after all.