Although I am no longer involved with the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, bits of news and information about the flock still come to my attention. This page is devoted to posting anything new I learn that I think might be of general interest.
May 1, 2023
The San Francisco Chronicle recently held a contest, an online vote, for San Francisco’s Official Animal. The wild parrots won. The Chronicle started with 16 different species, and after three rounds of voting it came down to the Wild Parrots vs. the Sea Lions. The parrots won 51% to 49%. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved a resolution to make it official. It now goes to committee to make it an ordinance. And then they really are San Francisco’s Official Animal.
A side note: The city has an official bird, the California Quail. An ordinance designating it as such was passed around 20 years ago at a time when the quail’s numbers within the city were particularly low. Today, there are none left, victims of habitat destruction and feral cats.
June 23, 2021
Around a year and a half ago there was an article in a local news outlet about the wild parrots that, while largely accurate, had a sensational headline that suggested that the wild parrot flock was dying out, which isn’t true. We got the headline changed, but the damage had already been done. I still get messages from people mourning the demise of the flock. One of the things I learned from my experiences dealing with the media is that they seldom get things totally right. They’re mostly people with a job who need to turn in a finished piece, and they often don’t sweat the details.
From the very beginning of my experience with the flock, back in 1993, I’d been seeing parrots, usually juveniles, showing up with severe neurological damage. I was entirely on my own and didn’t have the resources to determine what was causing it. While it was always dismaying to see, it wasn’t so bad that the flock’s numbers diminished. In fact, during my time with them, the flock continued to grow—from 24 in 1993 to a little over 60 in 1999. Today there are between 200 and 300 of them.
A few years ago, a parrot rescue organization, Mickaboo, took on the task of figuring out what was causing the problem and discovered that it was bromethalin, a common rat poison. How it’s getting into their system is unknown. But contrary to the impression that many people have, while a problem, the poison is not destroying the flock. They continue to live their lives in freedom in a territory that currently stretches from the north waterfront in San Francisco to Brisbane.