Monday, January 30, 2006
Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
We watched this movie last night on DVD. It was really pretty amazing. If you're not familiar with the story, I'll fill you in. There is a flock of parrots that live on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco...no one is sure when or how they got there, but there are many theories, including that they escaped from a ship that was here from South America, that an old woman owned them, and when she died, the person who came to clean out her apartment released them, and many others. Those parrots have not only thrived, they have been breeding for about 20 years now.
There is a man, Mark Bittner, who lives in the area, and as he is pretty much against getting a job and working for a living, had plenty of time to establish a relationship with the birds. He spent years doing this...feeding them from his hands, bringing them into his home to nurse them when they were sick or injured. They were his life. The film documents this amazing story in a way that is both amazing and beautiful, and not the least bit boring. We really enjoyed it.
The most recent developments are: Mark is no longer unemployed, because of the book and the movie that he has released about his relationship with the parrots. He is now in a relationship, with the director of the film, Judy Irving. (One cute part of the movie is that he has really long hair...the filmmaker asks him when he is going to cut it, and he says, when he gets a girlfriend....so at the end of the film, they show him getting it cut. Cute. :)
Also, there is trouble in paradise...the birds main roosting trees are a group of cypress trees on Telegraph Hill, which apparantly are dead and at danger of falling over. The owner of the trees wants to cut them down before they fall on someone or someone's house. Bittner and fans of the parrots don't want him to cut the trees down, because the parrots will be exposed to Hawks, and will have a very difficult time relocating. It's a big mess, with no clear good or bad guys. However, it looks like perhaps an answer will come, and the city is proposing to seriously prune the existing trees, so that they will stand for a few more years, and cause less damage should they fall, and meanwhile plant more cypress trees which will serve as the parrots eventual home, as well as provide some sort of structural support for the existing trees. I hope it works out. I would hate to see the trees cut down and the parrots decimated. I would also hate to see the trees fall and kill someone, or fall on someone's house, and the owner gets a big fat lawsuit, which is obviously his big fear.
Whatever happens, it's a beautiful film, and the birds are amazing. You can visit Bittner's website, and an article on the current state of affairs on SFGate.