The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

Fall in love with these brave and beautiful birds.
  • Review Date: December 19, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 83 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Stresses a love for all creatures and shows how adaptable animals are.

Violence & scariness

Sad deaths (offscreen).

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie has some very sad moments including the death of some of the birds and a sad parting.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Telegraph Hill, overlooking the North Beach section of San Francisco, is a place where all kinds of creatures from all kinds of places can feel welcome. One of them is onetime musician Mark Bittner, a man with "no visible means of support" who is himself the support for some of the neighborhood's most colorful residents -- a flock of bright green wild parrots. THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL documents Bittner's one-of-a-kind mission.

Is it any good?


Bittner is in one respect a sort of St. Francis of Telegraph Hill, carting huge bags of birdseed home on the bus to feed to the parrots and taking the sick ones into his home to nurse them. But he is also their Jane Goodall, possibly the only person in history to study a group of parrots so intently over so long a period. Bittner doesn't have a job, at least not one that pays him anything. He lives rent-free in a crumbling cottage and gets free pastries from a local cafe. The birds are his full-time job. He studies them, reads up on them, consults the bird specialist at the local zoo, and develops his own treatments, even grooming one parrot when he no longer has a mate to do it for him.

Through Bittner, even the least animal-friendly viewer will begin to fall in love with these brave and beautiful birds. His passion, dedication, and understanding are first impressive, then touching, then transcendent as he begins to talk about the death of a beloved parrot named Tupelo and tells a story from a zen master about the way we are all connected. The movie concludes with a moment of breathtaking perfection with the sweetest connection of all.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Bittner decided what was important to him and the steps he took to help him deal with change and loss in his life.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 8, 2005
DVD release date:December 27, 2005
Cast:Mark Bittner
Director:Judy Irving
Studio:Shadow Distribution
Topics:Science and nature, Wild animals
Run time:83 minutes
MPAA rating:G
MPAA explanation:all audiences

This review of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byswb April 9, 2008
age 0+

Great for Nature Lovers!

My son is a bird lover and now wants to own this movie. It is a sweet, gentle movie and gives you insight into how birds can all have unique personalities. I think it also helps kids and adults be less judgemental of someone with an unconventional lifestyle. Though rated G, may not hold attention of younger kids.
Parent Written byjeb522 April 9, 2008


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass