THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL


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Updates

In March 2007, Judy Irving and Mark Bittner reported on how the flock and their habitat are doing.

Flock Update

The San Francisco parrot flock is thriving, and is up to about 200 birds. The flock has expanded its range well beyond the northeast waterfront to Noe Valley and points south and west, even flying over a freeway at the southern end of the city to Visitacion Valley. Olive and Pushkin, the mitred/cherry-head pair, continue to fledge hybrid babies each fall, helping to create a brand new San Francisco parrot species that would not likely have evolved in their separate Peruvian habitats. Scrapper has found a new hybrid mate, one of Olive and Pushkin’s children, named Wendell (named before Mark realized she was female!). Sophie is still hanging in there, too, as far as we know, even though she lost her big protector, Picasso. There are other birds that Mark recognizes, not named in the film, who are still flying with the flock. The parrots still enjoy flying around Coit Tower and the stairway gardens of Telegraph Hill, squawking maniacally as they soar above the city, wild and free.

Habitat Update

The flock featured in THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL enjoys a year-round territory that extends from their waterfront roost in San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza to the eastern edge of the Presidio and Laurel Heights. They are also spotted in Washington Square Park and at Fort Mason, and in the summer, they sometimes range as far south as Visitacion Valley, City College and Crocker-Amazon.

In March of 2007, the city of San Francisco approved legislation to protect the two remaining Monterey cypress trees, once part of a much larger grove, on Telegraph Hill. The city will provide for their pruning and care and plant new trees in the area. The parrots use these trees are hawk lookout posts, as places to stash their babies while they go look for food and as the "parrot café," for rest stops between downtown and the Presidio.

Normally this care would be the responsibility of the owner of the cypress trees, which sit on private property. But because these Monterey cypresses are home to wild parrots that have become so beloved and well known, San Francisco officials took extra measures to ensure the trees’ survival. Over the next years a special arborist will carefully prune the trees and preserve them long enough for new ones to grow and shelter the parrots. This arrangement protects the owner of the trees and property from legal action if the two old Monterey cypresses collapse and cause damage or injury.

Before this measure was approved Mark Bittner had been fighting to save the trees, arguing that they are a crucial habitat for the flock. In 2005 he threw himself in front of chainsaws when one of the trees was cut down.

View a photo gallery of the parrots >>


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