I can clearly remember the first time I saw the wild parrots of San Francisco flying through the air over my neighborhood. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Or my ears, for that matter…their voices sound like a thousand tin cans rolling down a hill. Where had these bright green strangers come from, and why were they here? San Franciscans have a variety of explanations for these birds, but the one thing that we (mostly) agree on is that we love them.

A new book and film — “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” — goes a long way towards shedding light on this phenomenon. Mark Bittner, author and co-subject of the documentary, practically became a member of the flock while living on San Francisco’s famous Telegraph Hill, and his intimate relationship with and study of these birds provides great insight into their story.

it’s a fascinating and a poignant one, because Mark was homeless and down on his luck as the saga begins, and the flock provides him with — truly — a reason to live. through the book and film, he is now able to return the favor to these gorgeous avian immigrants. Visit his website for a tremendous range of photographs, sound recordings, stories, and the history of these birds.