Screened as part of NZIFF 2005

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill 2004

Directed by Judy Irving

Fascinating, moving portrait of San Franciscan Mark Bittner and his relationship with the wild parrots who flock around his leafy neighbourhood.

USA In English
80 minutes 35mm

Director, Producer, Photography, Editor


Based on the book by Mark Bittner


Chris Michie


Mark Bittner


San Francisco 2004


Anyone who ever fed the birds and stuck around to watch will by rewarded by this encounter with San Franciscan Mark Bittner and the 45 wild parrots who flock around his leafy San Francisco neighbourhood. Bittner knows and cares about each of these colourful birds on an individual basis. This simply executed video portrait has been making audiences around the world feel just the same about the parrots and their human patron and defender.

“An intimate companion piece to 2002’s epic, globe-spanning Winged Migration, Judy Irving’s The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill tracks a flock of cherry-headed conures, several of whom emerge with distinct personalities. It’s also a portrait of Mark Bittner, the quasi-Saint Francis of San Francisco, who monitors, feeds, and – simply put – loves these green-fledged creatures, while rigorously insisting on their essential freedom… The conures’ shadowy origins are explored, but pale next to the fundamental mysteries of the friendship between man and bird.” — Ed Park, Village Voice 

“One of the most beautiful and endearing nature films you’ve ever seen, despite being filmed almost entirely within a major metropolis… Seriously, it’s like watching Jane Goodall with her chimps, except funnier and less expected. Bittner has named almost all of the 45 or 50 parrots he personally encounters; he understands their pair-bonding, he shelters sick or dying birds in his apartment, he grieves their losses and celebrates their new arrivals. So will you, and Bittner himself will transform before your eyes from a washed-up 60s loner into a genuine urban hero (and an amateur ornithologist of some importance)." — Andrew O’Hehir,