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Of Parrots and People: The Sometimes Funny, Always Fascinating, and Often Catastrophic Collision of Two Intelligent Species Paperback – Bargain Price, July 28, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); 1 edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143115758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143115755
  • ASIN: B003156B1I
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,529,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Trenchant analysis woven together with colorful personal narratives from expert scientists, conservationists, eccentric pet owners and amateur animal rescuers reveals the deleterious consequences of mankind's penchant for keeping exotic birds. Tweti (Here, There and Everywhere) begins by debunking the myth of the "bird brain," citing the story of Alex, an African grey research parrot who was proven to have the cognitive skills of a toddler, not uncommon for his breed. The author's research illuminates the staggering variety of the thousands of species of parrots and indicts the individuals who breed, sell and smuggle birds to feed consumer demand. ("Parrots are a luxury item, deprived of liberty purely for human amusement. No one needs to keep a parrot.") She discusses the unacknowledged crisis of a species being hunted to extinction despite the frequency with which they are abandoned by pet owners. Tweti's account is factual and passionate-she likens even the prettiest bird cage to "a slave's shackles"-but she makes it clear where the science ends and her opinions begin. Tweti's work is a valuable resource of astonishing thoroughness, richness and accessibility-despite the occasional ideological inconsistency.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Parrots, along with parakeets, are described here as “compact, short-necked birds with stout hooked bills, noisy and gaudily colored.” Mango, a rainbow lorry, was the author’s decade-long muse and the inspiration for this book. He also was the reason she began writing about birds for newspapers and magazines, why she joined a bird club, and why she spent two years making a documentary film about pet birds. Chapters include such subjects as birds' brains (they are intelligent), their species (there are 350 of them), the crisis of unwanted birds (they make excellent companions, but terrible pets), where they can be seen in North America, the parrot industry in the U.S., the problems facing them in captivity and in the wild, the illegal trapping and wild harvesting of parrots around the world, and smuggling. The author also discusses protecting endangered birds through conservation. A captivating and ingenious examination. --George Cohen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

It is well written and well presented.
Amazon Customer
I got this book because I am a parrot owner and have also "bird-sat" for a friend of mine who has an African Grey.
Elizabeth Pakula
As a parrot owner/rescuer/lover, I would recommend this book to any parrot fancier.
Nell A. Clayton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Johnson on August 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Of parrots and people by Mira Tweti, is a vast collaboration of intense research and knowledge regarding parrots. I will have to say it has been quite some time since a book has held my interest so deeply that I spent two days reading it from cover to cover. I didn't want to put it down because I was so appalled at some of Tweti's findings. Tweti is an excellent researcher and has put together a single book that covers more than enough topics from avian history to avian future. Every current bird owner, prospective bird owner, and avian enthusiast should read this book. The stories are both heart wrenching and heartwarming. It really opened my eyes to the nature of bird economics, trapping, smuggling, and species survival/demise. Humans have really impacted the bird world by willingly torturing parrots and violently destroying their ecosystem. The end result is likely extinction of many innocent species. This book will make you truly think about the choices you make for your pets. My own feathered companions live harmoniously with humans, receive excellent care, and are regarded as part of my family. Tweti found that is not the case in most situations. Unlike many birds in unkempt breeding environments and unwanted birds I strive to meet the needs of my avian family members. I am a true animal lover and many of the stories were difficult to fathom. It is truly sickening to see and hear of such tragic situations. I too, have seen firsthand the disgust of neglected breeding environments on more than one occasion. It hurts me deeply. I truly cannot understand why people neglect and abuse such beautiful and intelligent creatures.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amy Hopkins on December 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Be forewarned. This is not a feel-good book for those people interested in the fun, exciting side of parrots.

Instead, it is a well-researched and presented book about all the ways that humans have interacted with and affected parrots over the years, both domestically and in the wild.

The author starts off with a chapter about parrot intelligence, followed by a chapter about parrot companions. From there, we travel to purgatory, then straight into hell. We are educated about the dark side of parrot breeding, and why there are so many parrot rescues and sanctuaries. The author goes to Mexico to follow the trail of parrot smuggling into the U.S. and barely manages to keep her composure, despite the horrors she witnesses. She spends a chapter on an undercover agent for U.S. Fish & Wildlife who has dedicated his life to stopping parrot smuggling. The chapter reads like an episode of Law and Order and is equally engrossing. She travels through South America with conservationist Charlie Munn and witnesses the glory of parrots in the wild. We learn about all the ways that human activity is driving parrots to extinction around the world. We even get to go along with her to meet Presley, one of the last remainng Spix's macaws in captivity, with all wild Spix's macaws already extinct. We learn about ecotourism and how it helps to save animals, such as parrots, in the wild.

This book should be required reading for anyone who lives with parrots, is contemplating getting a parrot, is interested in conservation, and, well, pretty much everyone. While parrots are the subject of the book, it could just as well be applied to animals in general. There are many stories in this book about reptile smuggling, another hot topic.

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sabra K. Brea on August 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Having been involved with parrots for over 30 years and having now having my own Parrot rescue Sanctuary, I can say with conviction that this is one of the most amazing, well researched, delightful books I have ever read! The author covers alot of territory re: all aspects of captivity, abuse, behavior etc. it is a fascinating read and should be a keeper for all involved with parrots in any way or those contemplating acquiring a parrot. I congratulate Mira Tweti on a job well done!I am purchasing several copies for parrot friends. I could not put it down.A truly important and fantastic book! Sabra Brea, Sabra's Parrot Rescue
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for all who are involved in any way with the "pet" bird industry, from the parokeet owner to the scarce macaw collector.
As a person who shares her home with four Macaws and an African Grey, I was certainly aware of the more uncomfortable moral aspects of captive birds, both from the individual bird's viewpoint and from a collection viewpoint. This book presents all the implications of the exotic bird trade in one package. It is well written and well presented. The facts seem to be accurate and impartial.
The topics included are not comfortable for we exotic bird owners, but this book will make you think about, not just the everyday living conditions of individual exotic birds in captivity, but our nation's and the world's public policies on unrenewable living resources like exotic animals.
Everyone who owns a bird should read this book and everyone who is thinking of acquiring a bird should be required to read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Some people might consider Mira Tweti a fanatic, because she doesn't believe in any captive breeding of parrots for the pet trade or that captive parrots should ever have their wings clipped. I might be one of those people. Tweti's intention is to present us with the current relationship between humans and parrots, both captive and wild, so that we see how dysfunctional and destructive that relationship is at times. "Of Parrots and People" largely succeeds in that goal by looking at the current state of parrots in the pet trade and in their natural habitat. Conditions are not what they should be for parrots and many populations seemed doomed to extinction.

Tweti begins by introducing the reader to the amazing cognitive, linguistic, and emotional capacity of parrots. The book's twelve chapters explore issues like: the crisis of unwanted birds and overburdened rescue facilities, feral flocks of non-native parrots in the United States, the plight of breeder birds on typical breeding farms, bird rescue organizations, parrot poaching and the illegal parrot trade, a US Fish & Wildlife Service Special Enforcement Agent's fight against parrot smuggling, and a trip to Brazil to see parrots in the wild with conservationist Charles Munn. She progresses from discussion of captive companion and breeding birds to the threats to wild parrot populations.

"Of Parrots and People" is not exhaustive on each topic, nor is it always objective, but it presents major parrot issues in a generally engaging style. I felt that Tweti could have done more to impress her readership with parrots' intelligence, to explain why they have such great needs in captivity and would be an extraordinary loss if they were extinct in the wild.
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