The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
Filmmaker: Judy Irving
Theatrical release: 2004; available on DVD
While I don't consider myself a bird fancier, I am a lover of nature in (almost) all its forms. My experience growing up on a farm near the disappearing fringes of what was once an ocean of tallgrass prairie in the central United States taught me that loving nature means accepting the bad (tornadoes, blizzards, hailstorms, drought, flood — or, in other locations, earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires) if you want to revel in rainbows, red-and-gold fall leaves, brilliant daffodils and tulips in spring, midnight aurora and meteor showers, harvest moon, and pink-turning-gold cloud formations at sunrise or sunset. Light and dark are both necessary; some things are just more appealing than others, depending on a lot of idiosyncratic quirks.
In this spirit and that of Winged Migration and March of the Penguins (both great 'bird' movies) comes the documentary film The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. It's an intriguing story (yes, this is a real flock of parrots that lives in the remaining trees of a San Francisco neighborhood) and fascinating study of unique fine-feathered characters — Mingus, Picasso, Connor, and Sophie, among others. Mark, the primary human character in the film, cares for the birds almost more than he cares for himself. The filmmaker tells an amazing story, carrying us along on the roller-coaster paths in the lives of bird and human, capped off with an unexpected and uplifting resolution.
The DVD is packed with bonus features, updates on flock and family, home movies, deleted scenes, a "Parrots Music Video" bonus short subject, and backstory on the flock.