In this appealing, heartfelt account of one man's attempt to bond with wildlife, the author tells how he made friends with a flock of birds and in the process found meaning in his own life. In the early 1990s, Bittner, a 42-year-old who was still living like a "dharma bum," discovered that there were wild parrots in the trees and on the power lines near the house he was caretaking on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill. Having nothing else to do, he decided to feed the birds on his fire escape and occupy his time by observing them. Soon they appeared every day, noisily demanding seeds, and for the next few years, he devoted most of his time to the wily and comical birds, which turned out to be cherry-headed and blue-crowned conures-escapees that originally had been caught in South America-and their progeny. Crowds gathered outside his house to see him with the parrots perched on his arms and head taking seeds from his hands, and he became famous as "the birdman of Telegraph Hill." Because he found that each bird had its own personality, he named them according to their individual characteristics, and in this charming record of their activities, they seem almost human. At a time when he lived like a hermit, the birds brought him joy and became his only friends. It's a bittersweet story-that is, until a documentary filmmaker shows up at his doorstep. Photos not seen by PW.
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Bittner moved to San Francisco in search of himself. Like many in the early '70s, he tried many pathways--Taoism, the Beats--and lived hand to mouth working odd jobs. A period of homelessness came to an end when he was hired to help an elderly woman. With the job came an apartment, a garden, and parrots. Cherry-headed and blue-headed conures (small South American parrots) formed a wild flock of some 20 birds that lived in the neighborhood. As Bittner became more and more fascinated with the parrots, he began to feed them, and this growing intimacy led to naming the birds and following their relationships. The birds eventually learned to trust him, and his involvement with them led to minor fame in the neighborhood. When a documentary filmmaker arrived to do a story on the Birdman of Telegraph Hill, romance bloomed. This lovely book on finding one's way through interacting with parrots will be very popular among animal-loving readers. Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This made a nice gift for my Mom following our mutual enjoyment of the documentary. She was not thrilled at getting a used book, however - lolPublished 1 month ago by Laurie
Heartwarming story. The documentary is amazing as well. Mark Bittner is a gem <3Published 6 months ago by E B
One of those books that changes how you think about life and certainly changes how you think about birds, especially parrots. Read morePublished 10 months ago by R. Vincent
This book is so much fun if you are fascinated by flocks of wild parrots in America.Published 12 months ago by A. erselius
By way of cring for and coming to love a flock of parrots in San Francico a man in his forties at last finds direction in his life, relationships. He learns how to love.Published 16 months ago by Ann Ahnemann
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill was the February book for my book club. Admittedly, I was not too excited to learn we would be reading a book about birds. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Dori M. MacMillan
After watching the documentary, I purchased the book and was hooked. So different from the usual
genres of fiction and non-fiction that I read, but it's really not that... Read more
This touching story of the relationship between a man and a flock of parrots is touching and shows our connection to all of nature.Published 19 months ago by Dr. Joan Robinson
I have my own copy and gave this one as a gift to a student who graduated from high school. She loves birds, and I believe she'll love this book.Published on June 24, 2013 by Blue Skies