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The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003)The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003)

Two times in this film Mark Bittner insists that he is not "eccentric." But he describes himself as a failed musician who lived on the streets of San Francisco, who bounced around from one odd job to another, and who has not paid rent in 25 years. His pony tail, which he promised not to cut until he had a girlfriend, reaches almost to his waist. As for his tender care for a flock of 45 wild parrots (cherryhead conures from South America) on Telegraph Hill just below Coit Tower, well, "it wasn't a plan, it just happened." Bittner knows them all by name and by their individual personalities—Connor and Mingus, Picasso and Sophie, Scrapper and Scraperella, and so on. By the end of this endearing film, you are pretty sure that he is likely the most articulate street person and self-taught ornithologist ever. You are not surprised that the city council honored his work, that scientists envy his daily field logs, that his still photography of his feathered friends is breathtaking, or that he has a memoir entitled The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Love Story With Wings. The only surprise is the incredible last two minutes of this outstanding documentary of an eminently likable human being.

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