Having just finished reading Of Parrots and People: The Sometimes Funny, Always Fascinating, and Often Catastrophic Collision of Two Intelligent Species by Mira Tweti, I felt compelled to share this extraordinary book with all of my fellow bird lovers out there. The book was published in 2008, so while it is certainly not new, it is new to me and the information is still highly relevant.
While my living situation is currently not conducive to taking on a parrot, I have always hoped to one day have the pleasure of sharing my life with one. On one of the bird forums I often get my parrot-fix from, someone recommended this book to another who was considering purchasing their first bird. I feel so fortunate to have been connected with it, as it now falls into the small category of books that I have read which I call “perspective changers”. By that I mean books that have so deeply shift my internal beliefs that I know they are forever, unshakably changed.
While this book’s sole focus is on parrots (no toucans here), it will undoubtedly make you appreciate the wonders of all birds and at the same time question our human need to possess nature and the true cost of that desire. Mira’s intense research is evident immediately – this book is chock full of surprising and appalling facts about parrots that many of us are unaware of, especially considering that, “the number of pet birds in the United States today is estimated at between 40 – 60 million, following cats (77 million) and dogs (65 million)”, making parrots the third most popular pet kept today.
Here is an interview Mira Tweti did on parrots as pets for CBS news:
I hesitate to share how emotionally wrenching this book is because despite the fact that it broke my heart to tears several times over with the atrocities our fellow humans are capable of, it is an engrossing read that you will not soon forget and an important source of information to base future decisions upon.
Of Parrot and People covers all aspects of the plight of both captive and wild parrot populations, including topics such as parrot intelligence, captive breeding, the over-crowding of parrot rescues with unwanted pets, smuggling, conservation, and her ideas for the future of parrots and potential solutions.
Mira Tweti is an incredibly talented writer who has the unique ability to convey the desperate emotion and urgency of her subject without seeming accusatory, overly moralistic, or condescending. To take this dense subject and make it so captivatingly accessible to everyone is a feat in and of itself.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who shares their life with a parrot, is considering getting one, or simply is an animal lover of any kind who would like to learn more about these amazing creatures whose intricate lives are still such a mystery to us. Just a warning – be sure you clear your schedule to allow time to fully absorb yourself in this world – this is definitely one of those books you won’t be able to put down.
Mira Tweti is currently piloting the first public awareness campaign for the estimated 30 million caged companion parrots in the US, called the Parrot Care Project & Cage xChange Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to “fill the millenniums-long void of information about the physical and psychological needs of parrots” by educating people on their proper care, focused primarily on appropriate cage size requirements. For more information and to support this cause, you can find them on Facebook by clicking the above link. Their first event is April 29th in Los Angeles. Please show them your support by liking their page, volunteering for events in your area, and donating funds to this worthy cause.