Monday, March 24, 2014

brushing your teeth with birds screaming on your head

A few years ago I watched the documentary version of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (you can see a snippet here, and loved it.

Finally I got around to reading the paperback. It’s almost as engaging as the film.

Mark Bittner was living in San Francisco’s North Beach when he found a position as caretaker for an elderly woman on Telegraph Hill. She didn’t need him much so Bittner was able to turn his attention to the wildlife of the neighborhood. With visions of being an amateur naturalist Bittner started studying - and feeding - a wild parrot flock. Gradually he gained the flock’s confidence and in the years that he knew them met each spring’s babies. An illness struck many and Bittner took a few into his house to nurse with some success, releasing each when it had regained its strength. Here’s a charming excerpt featuring two of those babies:

Dogen and Paco had developed an odd little enthusiasm that was part of the nightly household routine. The moment they saw me heading to the studio’s tiny bathroom to brush my teeth, they’d stop whatever they were doing and zoom over and land on my head, where they’d begin an intense round of play fighting. While I stood in front of the mirror brushing, they’d be crawling around my head and shoulders trying to bite each other and screaming in my ears. I have no idea what the appeal was. I got so accustomed to it that while they were fighting I’d be brushing and thinking about something entirely different, as if they weren’t there.

Mark Bittner keeps a blog, Views from a Hill.

source: The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark BIttner

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