41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2008
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.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2008
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.
Ms. Tweti has written a well-researched and informative book which reads more like a crime novel than nonfiction book. Despite the horrors portrayed, the book is very commanding and difficult to put down. I cannot more strongly recommend this book.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2008
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
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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. People should be thinking of these birds as dolphin or elephants, as smarter than chimpanzees, by the time they finish the book, and I don't think they are. I was annoyed repeatedly by omissions and misstatements of facts to distort some issues. This is a polemic. But "Of Parrots and People" does illuminate the problems and provide insight into aspects of the parrot trade that even parrot lovers may not know about.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2009
As a parrrot lover and companion to three of these wonderful animals, I was looking forward to reading this book.
The book is well written and very informative, but the information is not for the faint hearted. This book details all that is wrong with the parrot world in no uncertain terms.
There are also inspiring stories of people that are truly making a difference for these wonderful creatures.
Anyone considering a parrot should read this book before going to a pet store and buying one.
I enjoyed the book, but wish I hadn't learned some of what it taught me.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2008
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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2008
Outstanding! I have to admit that I am taking my time to read it and relishing every page. There is nothing else quite like it on the market, It is long over due! Finally, to have somebody get the courage to address the growing crisis facing parrots in captivity. It is a dark subject, but bringing it out and making it an issue, maybe the first step to prevent neglect and increasing numbers of unwanted parrots . The impossible dream maybe, but society needs to change how we look at caged birds and understand how unnatural confinement is for a creature with wings meant for flying.
This book takes a look into a bird's perspective, like no other. It is straight forward and contains a wealth of knowledge and facts. Everybody can learn something, I know that I am.
The stories are fascinating and amazingly true. Alex, the notorious grey, is a true icon and I still feel sad to know he's gone. He gave new meaning to the word "bird brain" and everything that I read about him, made him just that more incredible and lovable. He not only learned our language to communicate but also showed logic. In the book, it told how Dr. Pepperberg wanted to continue with Alex's lesson, but Alex had enough, was tired and distracted. Dr. Pepperberg would barter one more hour for a bribe of pizza. But Alex, held out for more and also wanted to be on his favorite perching area, he referred to as shoulder. I recall her saying, ok.. Alex... one hour, pizza and shoulder, then Alex agreed. The author talked about the size of a bird's brain in relation to computers and how now adays they are capable of doing so much in a fraction of the size they used to be. Brain size may not be a true measurement of intelligence and Alex was living proof.
I can only imagine the amount of time and research that went into compiling this book and I'm sure that it wasn't for the fame or the money that could be made, but out of pure love for parrots. It's a wonderful contribution to the parrot world. Thank you Mira Tweti.I pray that it somehow can reach the ones who still just "don't get it" and will treat parrots with more respect and allow them to behave more naturally.
Pet birds are often referred as "caged birds" or captive birds. It's only words to us, but the meaning of captive... "imprisonment, jail, restraint, slavery, bondage..." is an everyday reality for most parrots.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2009
Mira has uncovered the mystery of the world of captive parrots and exposed the whole truth about the parrot industry. The image that is held largely today that these brightly colored, charming birds should be in our homes to entertain and comfort us might change when you understand the chilling reality the bird faces in captivity that you may not have thought of before. It is very perceptive and I agree with her premise that parrots, even as companionable as they are, should not be pets. Read and see why. Very readable and pulls at the heart strings. Well worth the read.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2008
I have read this book with keen interest.
Tweti's research is both thorough and factual, and she has traveled to remote areas to uncover little known and discussed facts about the parrot trade (and other species on her way).
I disagree with a comment below stating that this book is written with an animal activist point of view. Whilst the author has strong opinions, her approach allows the reader to discover a side of the pet trade that is not widely known by the average parrot owner. After reading the book, I understand how unsettling this piece could prove for the parrot trade in the US and abroad. However, I also believe the parrot breeders who truly care about their trade will benefit from the facts exposed in Tweti's work. Every parrot deserves for this information to be shared between all animal lovers.
As a parrot owner with little previous knowledge of the actual trade, it has opened my eyes and made me want to take a stand to further protect parrots in the wild, and parrots used for breeding programs. I recommend this book to a wide range of parrot lovers, whether like me you are a proud parrot owner (you will feel even more connected to how your bird feels in your home), to those considering bringing a parrot in their lives (it will expose truths to make you do an educated choice on where your companion comes from, and hopefully you will support the many rescue programs the author exposes), and to the parrot industry types who are clearly divided between those who genuinely care for their birds and those who care primarily for their wallet.
My bird and I both benefited from the information in this book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2009
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. I also own other birds and was told about this book by my local librarian. I started to read it but took it back to the library because I knew I should add it to my collection on pet birds, especially parrots.
I couldn't read parts of the book without getting extremely upset because of the way some people mistreat their pets, how chain pet stores mistreat their "stock" and how poaching is such a terrible thing. Still, this is an important and informative book and if you already know or have heard about the recent death of Alex, an African Grey who was Dr. Irene Pepperberg's companion and possibly the smartest parrot in captivity, you will want this book. I also recommend "Alex and Me" by Dr. Pepperberg.
If you are thinking about owning a parrot, please read this book and remember a parrot is a lifetime commitment and not some kind of throwaway animal if you get tired of it. And do not purchase a parrot from a chain pet store or from someone at what seems to be a bargain price. It could have been smuggled into this country (many die even before they get here) or could be stolen. One of the saddest memories I have is of a poor miserable parrot in a tiny cage in the hot sun on a Tijuana street. This is why I couldn't read parts of this great book without crying.