I first started feeding the wild parrot flock in October, 1993. It wasn’t until a year later that I started a daily diary that described each feeding and what I was seeing within the flock. (When I finally did start the diary I took the time to write down as much as I could remember of that first year.) By the time I left the parrot flock in September 1999, I had over 1000 type-written pages. The diary was the main source for my book The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. I’ve decided to post, from time to time, selected entries from the old diary. Some will be individual entries that I think are of particular interest, while others will be complete episodes of events, many of which showed up in the book. There are a lot of stories that I couldn’t tell because there simply wasn’t enough room. Once you can recognize the individual characters in a parrot flock you get to see a lot of extraordinary happenings. I hope you find these enjoyable.
I’m going to take a break from the format I’ve been using and jump ahead two years to tell a story that I recently remembered. If I’d included this in my book The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, it would have gone in the chapter called “Free as a Bird,”
More from this period of active change in May and June of 1995. My relationship with Dogen continues to improve. The mitred conure, Olive (at this point called Oliver, see photo), has shown up. She was a wild caught bird from South America who was a pet for some time.
It was not my intention for my diary excerpts to focus so tightly on any single period. But I find this one consistently interesting. More on Dogen and me getting to know one another. And a surprise on the last day, the 21st. 6/17/95 Saturday Dogen is not at all
Some more on my struggle to take care of Dogen. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m learning as I go along. He’s been quite hostile toward me (Dogen is actually female, but I don’t know that yet), and a lot of this is my trying to get us to
This is a continuation of the last set of entries. I’m enjoying reading again about my first days with Smith (Dogen). 6/3/95 Saturday I covered him up completely last night and left him alone until around 7:00 am. I put the heat lamp on immediately. His head hangs extremely, but
This is the fire escape where I fed the parrots for the first three years, before having to move to the cottage, which is directly below, but out of sight here. I fed them another three years at the cottage, which was the setting for the documentary film. I took
These diary selections detail the events leading to my bringing my favorite parrot in the flock into the house. At the time her name was Smith (I initially thought she was male), which I later changed to Dogen (Doe-gun). She wasn’t my favorite bird then, but I had to care
A series of feedings that I find interesting as a collection. At this point in my diary keeping, the individual entries tend to be brief. They get longer and more detailed as time goes on. 3/9/95 Thursday They were unusually “crazy” and noisy today. My guess is that it was
A few introductory notes: Blue was a scrub jay that I was feeding for a time. I was caretaking an estate that had two buildings. One was a small studio apartment (Greenwich, the place I lived in in the film) and the main building, where I started feeding the parrots.
Introductory Note: This represents a typical day of feedings. I was still new to the experience and just beginning to take liberties with touching them. If you have my book, in the back of it there are short notes on many of the individual birds named here. 1/8/95 Sunday