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Parrot love

September 5, 2008 | 12:07 pm

Parrot0905

Fans of parrots are sure to enjoy the new book "Of Parrots and People: The Sometimes Funny, Always Fascinating, and Often Catastrophic Collisions of Two Intelligent Species." They may also find its discussion of the bird trade edifying.

Author Mira Tweti (really, like "tweety") has written about parrots and other birds before; a 2003 piece she did for this paper's Sunday magazine won an award from the Humane Society. She's a parrot owner, and this book is something of a love letter to the birds.

At its most fun, it relates anecdotes about birds and their human companions; parrots are smart, learning language and making connections. Jane Goodall learned of one such New York parrot and scheduled a visit. In advance of her arrival, the "parront" (a parrot's human "parent") showed the parrot pictures of the primatologist with chimpanzees and explained her work. When Goodall arrived, the parrot looked at her and asked, "Got a chimp?"

More painful are the chapters on the bird trade, both legal and illegal, which is devastating to wild populations. Parrots may be highly sought as pets but, with their expensive upkeep, messy eating and tendency to destroy furniture, are also frequently handed over to shelters. 

There are wild parrot populations in San Francisco and around Los Angeles (they've been reported in El Camino Village and Long Beach). If you see one, let the California Parrot Project know.

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo by Jef Poskanzer via Flickr

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