Archive for the ‘Parrot Books & Resources’ Category


“Life with Alex” DVD is Here

October 11, 2012

Look what I got in the mail today!  I’ll be doing a review of the film (and talking to some of the people involved in the making of this documentary) very soon. Watch this space for updates.

Get your own copy!


Watch the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill – On PBS Tonight

December 28, 2010

Independent Lens is re-airing the popular documentary, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, tonight. Check your local TV schedules to see when your local PBS station is carrying it.

If you’re a parrot lover and haven’t seen this film yet, set your DVRs! This is a must-see story of a man and his relationship with a feral flock of conures in San Francisco. You may not agree with his choices, but it’s an incredible story — not only about how a flock of feral parrots is surviving/thriving in an urban environment, but about how one man found meaning in his life by getting to know them.

Watch a preview:

More info about The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill can be found on the Independent Lens (PBS) website.

Mark Bittner, the central (human) character in this documentary, also wrote a book about his experience. Both the book and the DVD are available on Amazon and other stores.

Update: There’s a live chat scheduled with Mark Bittner for tomorrow. Visit the Independent Lens site at 10 am PST to ask him your questions! What a great opportunity.


Book Review: Reaching the Animal Mind

April 10, 2010

I recently read the new Karen Pryor book “Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals” and would like to recommend it to anyone who has an interest in training and how learning takes place.

I’m a huge of Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot the Dog” — the book that brought clicker training to the masses (no, it’s actually not about dogs or dog training). Pryor is often credited for inspiring a revolution in animal behavior modification and making positive reinforcement the favored teaching method for most animal trainers; it also created the groundwork for other training books, including Clicker Training for Birds by Melinda Johnson. So I was definitely interested in what Pryor had to say about her experiences and observations about how animals learn.

Reaching the Animal Mind is probably not the best *intro* into clicker training as it’s not a how-to book; rather, Pryor shares a lot of really fun stories and anecdotes from her many decades of being a trainer (which includes stories of training and observing all types of animals from dolphins to wolves), which all support some points that she argues about what makes clicker training different from traditional training methods. She even makes a very strong case that clicker training is significantly different from 100% positive-reinforcement training that doesn’t use a clicker.

While she does talk a little bit about science (how data travels through the brain, etc), the whole thing is very accessible and fun… and hopefully it’ll inspire more people to use these principles in dealing with all animals (including fellow humans).

I particularly liked the chapters about how cues can act as reinforcers on their own and how to address the extinction curve so that the training subject doesn’t get frustrated. This was material that was new to me.

Also noteworthy is that every chapter includes a note about where on her website you can find videos of the examples/stories she talked about. I haven’t watched them yet, but you can find them on the official Reaching the Animal Mind website. (Navigate to more videos using the “chapter” links along the top).

The book is a lot more entertaining than one would think based on the subject matter, and I definitely encourage anyone interested in behavior and training to at least flip through for new insights and inspiration.

> Read more reviews of Karen Pryor’s Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals


Andrew Zuckerman’s Bird Photography

December 19, 2009

Recently I was at the doctor’s office and noticed an Audubon magazine with the most gorgeous pair of parrots on the cover. I didn’t recognize the species, but quickly learned it was the rare Spix macaw. But even more fascinating than the Spix macaw was the photography and I made a note to Google this Andrew Zuckerman, who struck me as a truly original artist.

Audubon November Issue: Spix Macaw

As someone who loves both parrots and photography, I’m chagrined to find out he already has quite the reputation for his bird photography, and I am late to the game in “discovering” him. In addition to several books, he also has some great videos that go “behind the scenes” of how he photographs his subjects:

The intro on his website also has a gorgeous video montage of the birds he shot (in the photographic sense).

He has a book dedicated to his bird photography. His images are copyrighted, so I can’t share them here, but check out

Then go buy it at Amazon. Bird by Andrew Zuckerman would be a great Christmas present for anyone who loves photography books or birds


New Free Issue of Good Bird Magazine

November 25, 2009

Early last year, Barbara Heidenreich was nice enough to offer readers of Best in Flock a free e-copy of her wonderful Good Bird Magazine. She redesigned her site recently and not only is she continuing to offer a free digital sample to followers of this blog, but she’s offering a newer issue. So even if you took advantage of the offer previously, you can now follow the updated link here to grab another free sample.

If you’ve never seen Good Bird Magazine, you’ll be impressed with the sheer volume of great info on parrot behavior and parrot training in each issue. Please check it out, and if you like it, be sure to subscribe to the print magazine.


To grab your copy of this free digital sample of GoodBird, please visit my previous post and follow the instructions on how to request your copy.

Related Links:



Book Review: Rebecca O’Connor’s Memoir LIFT

October 13, 2009

I have to admit that one of the best byproducts of sharing my life with parrots, and starting this blog, is the relationships I’ve been able to build with other bird lovers. One of the people who I’ve been particularly happy to “meet” is Rebecca O’Connor, who writes the Heckled by Parrots blog and is probably best known to parrot owners as the author of the acclaimed book: A Parrot for Life: Raising and Training the Perfect Parrot Companion.

So when Rebecca sent me a review copy of her new memoir LIFT, I was beyond thrilled. Not only do I love books about birds, but I love books.

It turns out that her African Grey parrot only makes very brief appearances in LIFT, but I barely minded. You see, LIFT is an incredibly moving memoir combining wonderful story-telling with strong, personal writing. In fact, it’s so personal that I find it really difficult to write about it in any detail – this isn’t the kind of book that is well served by a plot summary.

It’s about falconry, but it’s not about falconry. It’s also about being a woman, having faults, learning to forgive, learning to trust and coming to grips with one’s past.

The author’s relationship with the bird is an allegory, as Rebecca learns to fly her peregrine and learns to let go of old hurts and inner demons; but it’s not just an allegory. For those who want more than introspection, there’s enough detail and building anticipation to really get you interested in the world of falconry. There were a few falconry terms and concepts here and there that could have been explained more clearly to a non-falconer myself, but overall I definitely enjoyed this glimpse into a world I never gave much thought before.

(As a bird owner myself, the passages where O’Connor describes losing and subsequently chasing her falcon across the landscape was particularly unnerving.)

O’Connor does an excellent job building tension, releasing it just a little at a time as her story of working with her first peregrine unfolds … all the while you can almost imagine yourself as a falcon chasing a lure, following it as the author spins it away from you again and again, until its time to resolve the conflict and you can devour your prize.

This is a book that can appeal to men, women, falconers, bird lovers, anyone who’s ever struggled to overcome a difficult childhood, anyone who’s ever struggled to master a new challenge, and people who like being afforded a glimpse into someone else’s life and passion. I finished this book in two long sittings — reading late, late into the night, much to the detriment of my functioning the next day. It was just that hard to put down.

In other words, I enjoyed LIFT and think my readers may too. Get LIFT at Amazon


Free Issue of Companion Parrot Magazine

September 27, 2009

Sally Blanchard’s Companion Parrot Magazine, Issue #72, is available as a FREE download. This 62-page, full-color online issue is chock-full of information, stories and pictures dedicated to the topic of parrot playtime.

Visit the Companion Parrot website and scroll down to the bottom of the page to get this free issue or click here. (At 8.8MB, it may take a while.)

To learn more about Companion Parrot Magazine, please visit Sally Blanchard’s website.