Nearly a decade and a half after San Francisco's wild parrots gained wide fame via a book and a documentary about them, the noisy but beloved, non-native green birds have only increased their population in and around the city estimated now at over 300 and separated into several flocks with homes in trees in multiple city parks, as well as down in Brisbane. A local bird rescue group called Mickaboo, now in its 20th year, has just made an appeal via a Chronicle piece seeking more volunteers and donations, saying that between the abandoned companion birds and sick or injured wild parrots that they take in, they can rack up vet bills of $50,000 per month.
The birds might fly into a building, or turn up looking ill on an SF street, and they often end up in Mickaboo's care.
They say they've taken in about 140 wild parrots over the years, rehabilitating and adopting out 45 percent of them, seeing 10 percent fly off on their own, and releasing about 5 percent of them, since 2013, back to rejoin wild flocks the remaining 40 percent have died, as have all the parrots featured in the 2003 documentary by Judy Irving which centered on her partner of many years, Mark Bittner, and his relationship with the parrots that gathered outside his Telegraph Hill cottage. Bittner, by the way, still lives on Telegraph Hill but in a different home that he owns and shares with Irving, and he doesn't take in parrots anymore though he's glad that Mickaboo does what he used to do, in nursing parrots back to health and releasing them back to where they came from.
The latest generation of flocks, all descendants of the original flock of a couple dozen, now gather in Lafayette Park, near Crissy Field, along the Embarcadero, and occasionally in Bernal Heights and Alamo Square, in addition to hanging out still on Telegraph Hill.
As for how the parrots got here and took to the wild in the first place, there are a number of rumors and theories including one about a truck full of parrots that overturned, and a "crazy lady" with a pet store who just opened her doors and let a bunch of parrots out one time. What we know is that sometime in the mid 1990's a flock formed and began growing that spent its days in trees on Telegraph Hill, and its nights mostly down in the taller trees in Sue Bierman Park along the Embarcadero. They're a type of parakeet or conure, and all tend to have bright green plumage and red "caps" on their heads when they become adults.
These are the couple dozen "Conures of Telegraph Hill" who are available for fostering and adoption through Mickaboo, some in bonded pairs. A lot of them have names of SF streets where they were found, like Guerrero, Octavia, and Larkin.
The group is also seeking donations, and they say that 90 percent of funds donated go directly to medical care for rescued birds.
Below, the trailer for the 2004 documentary that made them famous.