“Of Parrots and People”

November 25, 2008 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Nonfiction | 3 Comments

Mira Tweti must have been born to write a book about birds.  Doesn’t Mira mean ‘look’ in Spanish?  And of course Tweti sounds like, well, a bird call.  Isn’t that charming?

Of Parrots and...

Of Parrots and People has its charming parts.  The beginning of the book talks about the intelligence of parrots and the bond they can form with humans.  The famous Alex, the African grey who worked with Irene Pepperberg, appears, as does N’Kisi, another well-known intelligent parrot.  I’ve spent a great deal of time with birds myself for over 25 years – my first love was Gorgeous the double yellow nape Amazon – and I now live with a grey parrot myself.  Noelie is indeed an unusually intelligent, sensitive creature.  I was looking at a handbook on training your bird to do tricks, and suddenly Noelie leaned over and started looking at the book.  I glanced over to the right-hand page, and sure enough, there was a B&W photo of another grey!  She’d recognized her kind in a 3″ photo before I did.  Anyone who has lived with a bright, well-adjusted parrot can do little else but constantly spout praise about these birds.

The trouble is, not all birds are well-adjusted.  Tweti moves forward in the book to expose an epidemic problem of unwanted parrots who wind up in rescue shelters, or horrifically neglected or abused.  It’s all downhill from there – the main point of the book is how the American trade in parrots leads directly to smuggling and the decimation of wild bird populations worldwide.  I couldn’t look through all the photos in the center of the book in one sitting because I started to cry.

Of Parrots and People really is a wonderful and important book.  I learned a lot, though I thought I knew pretty much everything about parrots already.  I just wish the news wasn’t so hard to take.



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  1. I don’t know much about parrots, but they appear such fascinating creatures. When I used to live in San Francisco I saw lots of parrots in the parks that people said were feral ones that had been escaped or released pets. I do want to read more about them, though this book looks rather depressing in the end.

  2. You could read “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” by Mark Bittner – it’s actually about those parrots you saw in San Francisco. (Assuming you haven’t read it already, or seen the movie). It’s a great story because it’s also the story of the author’s journey out of homelessness.

  3. I saw the documentary! It was very cool, and I’ve been meaning to read the book ever since. That, and one about Alex the gray parrot.

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