Parrots are flying wild in San Francisco. The famous birds immortalized in the book and movie The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill are now roosting in several neighborhoods throughout the city—ones beyond their original home on the city's iconic Telegraph Hill.
Mark Bittner wrote about a flock of a few dozen squawking birds in his 2004 book. The parrots have flourished and have turned into a population of more than 300, according to the bird rescue group Mickaboo. They can be seen flying in formation in small flocks throughout the city and have been sighted as far south as Brisbane, about 15 miles south of the city.
It's unclear exactly when the birds first appeared in San Francisco and how they landed in the wilds of city. The birds originate in South America and were likely brought to the city to be sold as pets and were either purposely released or escaped.
Bittner writes about seeing the brightly colored birds in the early 1990s. He was a homeless musician squatting in an unoccupied apartment on Telegraph Hill and chronicled his years tending to a flock that lived in a tree outside his building. His book was published in 2004, the same year Judith Irving released her documentary of the same title. The film recorded Bittner's devotion to the birds and his transformation into an amateur avian expert. It won a Genesis Award for Documentary Film.
The parrots are popular tourist attractions in San Francisco. But the city supervisors passed a law banning the feeding of the colorful flock—even if Polly does want a cracker.
(AP Photo: Parrots stop for some seed and an apple in Brisbane, California.)