How to (reliably) find the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill


Oh, the famous Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill–cool enough to have their own Yelp Page, yet elusive enough that, in spite of having been in and out of San Francisco repeatedly, I’ve never seen them before. Even Mark Bitters, the man who made them famous through his book and documentary, isn’t quite sure how to consistently see them in spite of studying them for years.

Good news for bird watchers, though:

Follow this guide and I bet I can get you pretty darn close.

Naturally, my status of ‘crazy bird lady’ meant that I just had to find them on a recent impromptu trip to San Francisco. Knowing a thing or two about parrots helped; I spent the day looking for them, knowing all along certain things would help. Shockingly, if I’d paid attention to my own wisdom, I could’ve spent the majority of the day doing something else… fortunately, you get to learn from my mistakes. 😀

Locals suggested wandering up and down the steps between Greenwich Road, Levi’s Plaza, and Coit Tower, but “no guarantees”.

Parrots are pretty active during the day; they travel in flocks, moving frequently, meaning you’re way less likely to see them randomly when you’re not looking. When you are looking to bird watch, how do you find them?

How to Find the Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Guide in Videos and Pictures

  1. Time of day matters. 

2. Location, location, location!

Start at Levi’s Plaza and work your way up the steps to Coit Tower.

Or, you know, just drive and park at Coit Tower. I just think the hike up is lovely, and you’re more likely to catch the parrots if you walk.

Levi’s Plaza is a great place to start–the starting point is too low for the birds to consistently appear (in my opinion), but head up the stairs towards Coit tower, and you’re in for a gorgeous hike, and a great way to get oriented to the surrounding area!

Take the stairs you see here. Make your way up to Coit tower.

Once at Coit Tower, you’ll want to locate the side paths that are about fifteen-twenty feet off the main parking area; I started by heading toward Green Street and circling that pathway.

3. Follow your ears. Parrots are LOUD. You will hear them (and some crows and/or ravens) long before you see them.

4. Be patient and keep walking. If you follow your ears, you’ll eventually find them!

In a Nutshell:

-Make sure wander the paths around Coit Tower about an hour before sundown, or shortly after sunrise!

-Where there are ravens roosting, so too will you likely find parrots. Ravens are the kings and queens of Coit Tower, so they’ll be chilling in the trees around the center; the parrots will be flying the side paths ten to fifteen feet from the center.

-Be patient and be ready to walk. The parrots will only stay in the trees for a few minutes before darting away.

-Bring binoculars. They’re hard to see, especially if you’re blind like I am!

If all else fails, locals are correct about finding parrots at/around Embarcadero park; there seems to be a popular roost at sundown in a tree at the intersection at Clay & Davis, which I stumbled upon quite by happy accident as I wandered back to my hotel. Visit at sundown (after the sun has dipped below the horizon, but before it’s totally dark), and you will probably get lucky!

A cat wanted to be petted during my hike!
Check out the local wildlife.

Allergies Don’t Disappear: Mild Toe-Tapping

Oh, the holidays–friendship, cheer, the season of giving…

What more could a bird want than a bit of pizza crust?

Unfortunately, Louie acquired a mild case of toe-tapping to go with it. 😦

I gave Louie a tiny bit of pizza crust (standard practice when we feel like spoiling our birds.)

This particular pizza crust came from Old Chicagos, where they apparently add cornmeal to their tasty, tasty dough. And any type of corn product will set him off tapping.

This time, at least, I got a video. Ekkie toe-tapping:

Louie’s feet started that dreaded spasm approximately fifteen minutes after receiving a tiny piece of crust (no bigger than the size of a dime.) It only lasted maybe half an hour,

A Blue Cere in a Female Budge = A Tumor

Well, it’s official: we’re going to lose Miss Winsty-Woo in the next few months. 😦

Winston the “Attack” bird, or so the vet called her defending herself when he approached her with a towel. (Until I picked her up. She’s a marshmallow.)

For the past day or so, Winston has seemed a little… off.

She’s always been exceptionally calm for a budgie (stiff-upper-lipped-English-budgie-woman and all that), but lately she’s seemed a little sleepier.

A little more reserved.

A little less playful.

Winston is exceptionally weird for a bird in that, since she was barely feathered, she has consistently done things that generally signify illness:

being exceptionally fluffy/fluffed up (that’s her English budgie-ness),

sleeping on the bottom of her cage (she’s done this her entire life; she likes to stick her legs through the grate on the bottom of her cage and lie on her chest)

Not a super-clean vent (a product of her extra fluffy-ness/girth and sleeping on the bottom of her cage)

Our vet has consistently given her a clean bill of health in spite of her nonsense, fortunately. Hubby and I have always been hyper-vigilant with her because of it.

Yesterday, we noticed a change:

She didn’t feel like flying/couldn’t fly very well. When something startled her and she fluttered to the floor instead of making her usual awkward, haphazard trip back up to her cage, we knew something was up.

Tail-bobbing, just a tiny bit. When calmly sitting still, her tail moves up and down now with every breath–just a little–but it signifies respiratory distress in birds.

She’s still eating fine and hadn’t lost any significant weight, but we followed our philosophy: go to the vet at the first sign of avian illness.

Two years ago vs. today. Her cere has become the same color as her cheek spots.

Today, I braved the snow, and I’m glad I did: Winston has a tumor. 😦

She’s four and a half years old.

The vet cannot feel it yet, which means we caught it super early, but he said there is only one thing on God’s green earth (that he knows of) that will turn a female budgie’s cere blue: a testosterone-secreting tumor in her reproductive track. And unfortunately, there’s no doubt that she’s a girl; the four eggs she laid last summer are a testament to that.

Our avian vet could only guess, but due to the fact that it feels like she’s lost a little bit of weight across her breastbone and these new symptoms (however mild), he suspects she has only one to three months left.

He gave us some pain medication to help her deal with any pain; she will now get all the seed, millet, and otherwise unhealthy food that she wants.

Flock of ROCK!

I’m on the writing committee for a local charity, and this is one of the songs we might be using/rewriting for our musical. Tippy clearly likes it as much as I do. XD

…Sorry it’s a little blairwitchy. I was dancing with him.


Teaching a Bird NOT to Scream: Reality

Screaming is one way birds get attention (positive, negative, it doesn’t matter!) Now, I can’t definitively say whether or not this was the case for Miss Viola Waddlesworth at her former home, however, her friend Sam, the African Grey who went to a neighbor’s house, frequently shouts, “Shut up, Waddles!”

…So yeah, we likely have a few years’ worth of bad habits to break with her.

One major purpose of this blog is to go beyond text and describe/show what bird training *really* looks like. Thus, a five minute vlog post was born.

May I present: What Teaching a Bird Not to Scream Really Looks Like: A Work in Progress

TL;DW/Oh my Gawd, I can’t take the screaming anymore – Skip to 4:05

Teaching a bird not to scream = massive, massive amounts of patience. It looks like a lot of:

  • Standing around out of sight of your bird and waiting for silence/a sound you don’t hate before you make your presence known again.
  • Making no movements that might indicate you might be coming within sight of your bird while he or she is screaming.
  • Responding to a sound you like with a happy call back/movement towards the birds–birds who are alone in a different room will “contact call“, which is natural and can’t really be turned off, so pick a sound you like/don’t hate and reinforce that.
  • Turning around/leaving the bird’s sight if they start screaming when you try to enter the room. They’re screaming for attention. Don’t give it to them!
  • Your spouse’s unwilling participation in the lack of movement/shouting at bird (shouting just reinforces the bad behavior and makes it continue longer. Spouses: Ignore it with every fiber of your being. Don’t even look at the bird.)


An Aside/Soap Box:

I feel like this video demonstrates why cockatoos (not Vi’s species–Vi is an Amazon) are only for the bravest, most tolerant of people. According to, Moluccan Cockatoos (and Umbrellas get close to this, too!) “Moluccans hold the record as the loudest bird on earth at 135 [decibels of sound]…A 747 Jumbo Jet produces as much as 140 decibels of noise.

My first-hand experience? Yes, they really are that loud. It is

Oh, and P.S.–A lot of the stuff you read at is NOT hyperbole regarding many, many, many Moluccan (and some Umbrella) cockatoos. We lived it. Not true of all cockatoos, but oh man… It was bad.

Eclectus Mojo Moult: A Picture of Pinfeathers

Is he sick? Does he have scabies? Is he dying?!!

No, no, and no.

Mr. Lou is going through the most intense mojo moult of his life right now, coupled also with a hard moult. He has to be beyond uncomfortable, but he’s still our cheerful little Lou! Our handsome boy is not so handsome.

Warning: Graphics of intense Mojo Moult beyond this point!

Continue reading Eclectus Mojo Moult: A Picture of Pinfeathers