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Of Parrots and People: The Sometimes Funny, Always Fascinating, and Often Catastrophic Collision of Two Intelligent Species

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  29 reviews
There are an estimated 50 million parrots kept as pets the U.S. alone, their numbers surpassed only by dogs and cats, yet these complex creatures are not your typical domesticated animal, and they remain a mystery to many. Most people don’t know that parrots score at the level of 3-to-5 year olds on human intelligence tests. Nor that they can live to 100 years or more. Nor ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 14th 2008 by Viking Adult (first published 2008)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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Mar 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Reading this and "The Dangerous World of Butterflies" convinces me that I don't want to read anymore of this type of book. The author of Butterflies was shockingly ignorant of them, which was annoying. Mira Tweti does not have that problem but she obviously espouses the ideas of PETA--she quotes them frequently--and does not believe any birds should be kept as pets. I'm not sure whether this is true or not, but I am sure that her coverage of the subject is slanted to reflect her own beliefs. For ...more
Kevin McAllister
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
With the title Of Parrots And People I was looking foward to reading a book of "feel good" type stories between parrots and people. The author herself Mira Tweti, wrote the book because she fell totally in love with her own pet parrot. Turns out my expectations were way off. The book is a continuous collection of sordid, disturbing, and often, down right depressing, accounts of people involved in all aspects of the parrot business. No one is spared. Not the breeders, the trappers,the pet shop ow ...more
Nov 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very informative and moving account of what we are doing to this planet. The sum of it all is we have destroyed the habitats around us and then also have made these intelligent animals basically our slaves. I who have birds as pets, now find myself loathing the decision to have ever done this. I love them and care for them. And as I know birds I know they love me back and have made me part of their flock. But I wonder to the quality of their lives and wonder if they dream of another world. Thoug ...more
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I did not finish this because the dog ate it, which is becoming an unfortunate theme in my life these days. I believe this book chewing was motivated by species prejudice on the part of the dog, and we are working with her on tolerance for all animals.

The first third of this book, which I did read, was a very, very compelling argument for why people should not keep parrots as pets. The author frequently mentioned that the number of unwanted pet parrots is rising even as the wild populations decl
M Harris
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-history
I enjoyed reading this book. Most of it focused on the issues surrounding keeping parrots as pets, such as how they are wild animals poorly suited to be pets, the horrors of how they are raised commercially and captured and smuggled from the wild. Consequently, parts of it could be quite sad, but the part about the successes of ecotourism at the end was good to read, and I came away knowing far more than when I started.
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Disappointing. I'm deeply fascinated by parrot intelligence and got the book after reading the first chapter, in hopes of more anecdotes about parrot education and inter-species communication and relationships.

Instead, this is a heavy-handed PETA piece with wildly inconsistent tone. For example, it's "foolish" to compare intelligence between species, because all species have different values and emphases -- BUT PARROTS ARE DEFINITELY THE SMARTEST. And brain size is irrelevant to intelligence --
Michael Andersen-Andrade
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Of Parrots and People" confirms the conclusion I've come to after owning a parrot for the past 28 years: They are not suitable pets for the vast majority of people. In the first place, even the tamest parrot is never fully domesticated. They are colorful, playful and some talk, but they also bite, scream and make a mess, which often condemns them to a dark closet or being handed off to multiple owners who soon tire of a parrot's high maintenance. Parrots are very intelligent animals whose psych ...more
Eden Tran
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
OMG! My perspective on parrots has completely changed after reading this book! It's got some amazing information, but also horrifying accounts of past and present methods used to trap wild parrots, which continues to cause their numbers to steadily decline. Because of this harsh reality that the author presents, reading this book is like watching a train wreck, too terrifying to even think about, but impossible to tear your eyes away. As a zoologist & animal lover, I almost did stop reading it a ...more
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anybody who is thinking of getting a parrot. Environmentalists. Animal lovers.
Excellent expose of the exploitative relationship between humans and parrots, from illegal smuggling to captive breeding to habitat destruction. Enlightening, fascinating, devastating and utterly depressing. (Forget the teaser on the cover: "The sometimes funny, always fascinating and often catastrophic collision of two intelligent species" - it's misleading.)

I think this book should be required reading for anybody who is considering acquiring a parrot. There are serious ethical issues involved
Dec 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal lovers, curious folk, anyone with a heart or a conscience (or maybe those who are lacking)
Shelves: animals, non-fiction
People, this book is knocking my socks right off. It might be the best non-fiction book I've ever read, and I'm convinced that it is probably one of the most important books out there about the relationship between humans and animals. Dispels myths & raises questions about bird ownership, and talks about conservation/rescue efforts. Anecdotes will alternately make you laugh and weep.

p.s. Now that I've finished reading, I think I'd lower my rating slightly to 4.5 stars, mostly because the author
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is an important and well written book about the relationship between humans and parrots. It looks at several levels of interaction, from the personal level of keeping parrots as pets to the broader social and ecological issues. The author doesn't mince words when talking about the violence brought about against animals, which is distressing, but not gratuitous. I sought this book out because of my personal interests, but I think it will be enlightening to anyone interested in animal welfare ...more
Lacey Losh
Feb 11, 2015 rated it liked it
I delighted in the first couple chapters of this book.

However, I found the change from heart-warming stories from breeders, pet owners and bird lovers over to the political and animal rights aspects a bit too abrupt. Especially since a lot of this content is horrifying to read about.

This book is fascinating, but the transition into it's greater intention could have been a bit more subtle and smooth.
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I am actually only 2/3 the way through it, but it took me so long to read it, that I had to return it to the library. In all, it would take me about 4 hours to read it without a break, but compared to all the other books I was reading, it did not captivate my interest, and it seemed like a pain to read it. The information in the book was wonderful, though. And I agree with nearly everything in it!
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
I learned a lot in reading this book mostly about the negative side of pet trade and smuggling and breeding birds as pets. If I would've known what it was actually about I honestly would not have read it, educational and well researched but depressing. I was hoping to learn about parrot behavior and the relationships and bonds with humans. It was an interesting read but not what I was looking for.
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Informative and heart-wrenching, but does (as others have noted) seem very one-sided and it's hard to entirely stomach a book that repeatedly treats PETA like a credible source of animal ethics when they have so many issues of their own. Quit reading about halfway through because of this and because it is, to be honest, unrelentingly depressing with little relief.
Suzanne Auckerman
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very well written and researched, but depressing. I have looked at the parrots in PetSmart and wondered about them, but had no idea what the situation was. It is interesting that PetCo stopped selling them as I know Paul Jolly (VP of their charity foundation) and he has an aviary of rescued birds.

The book was published in 2008, but I never heard of it. I read it for the bird book club.
Shelby A
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just for anyone looking to read this book because they think it's about how much people love their pet parrots: this is not the book you're looking for.
This is an informative read; if you want to educate yourself on how a parrot gets into that little cage you've seen your buddy or local pet store has, this is the book for you.
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals
This was very educational and interesting, on a subject I knew nothing about. Lots of horror stories about pet stores and lousy home ownership of parrots in this book, but it also provides a vision of how it can be when a hookbilled bird is matched correctly with a human and kept under the proper conditions.
Noah Murphy
Jul 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
The author started off very good and had many good points. By the end of the book, she got way over the top, equating the plight of parrots with the imminent death of planet Earth. Skip the conclusion and you'll find a better book.
Jamie Travitz
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not the cute stories about pet parrots the description leads you to believe, but instead talks about parrot conservation, and the need for better understanding of these birds before you adopt one. Including the plight of the spix macaw, cage bird trapping, and parrot rescue organizations.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Lady couldn't figure out if she was saying parrots are great, and fabulous companions, or that the parrot industry is awful so we shouldn't keep parrots. So she said both. Could have been a New Yorker article or 2.
Teri Temme
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
I, like others, thought this was a feel-good book about parrots with wonderful heart warming stories. Not. It's a horrifying account about what humans are doing to the planet. It probably should be read by more, but it is really tough to get through it. It is heart wrenching.
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The descriptions of cruelty in this book were very difficult for me to read, but my eyes have now been opened to the brutality of the parrot trade. I am now aware that these creatures should not be kept as pets. I have scheduled a visit to a local sanctuary to learn more.
Nov 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Interesting in the parts about psittacine intelligence. The chapters on cruel stupid things people do to parrots made me angry /sad.
Jun 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but depressing.
Muriel Smith
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A must read
Jun 25, 2009 is currently reading it
This book is a must read for anyone interested in owning a parrot. I consider myself pretty up on animal issues, but the world of pet parrots is pretty shocking.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Fascinating topic, but the author was biased in a bad way, and drew contradictory conclusions. Could have used more intellectual rigor.
rated it liked it
Feb 07, 2019
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“own. Save a parrot’s tree. Save ten. Without our help, without needed legislative protection and worldwide consciousness-raising on their behalf, parrots will be lost in short years to come. It is fitting to end this book with this succinct summation from Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States:   We are at an odd moment in history. There are more people in this country sensitized to animal protection issues than ever before. The Humane Society of the United States alone has 8 million members, and in addition, there are more than 5,000 other groups devoted to animal protection. At the same time, there are more animals being harmed than ever before—in industrial agriculture, research and testing, and the trade in wild animals. It is pitiful that our society still condones keeping millions of parrots and other wild birds as pets—wild animals that should be free to fly and instead are languishing in cages, with more being bred every day. It’s an issue of supply and demand and it’s also an issue of right and wrong. Animals suffer in confinement, and we have a moral obligation to spare them from needless suffering. Every person can make a difference every day for animals by making compassionate choices in the marketplace: don’t buy wild animals as pets, whether they are caught from the wild or bred in captivity. If we spare the life of just one animal, it’s a 100% positive impact for that creature. If we can solve the larger bird trade problem, it will be 100% positive for all parrots and other wild birds in the U.S. and beyond our borders. I believe we will look back in 50 -75 years and say “How could we as a society countenance things like the decades long imprisonment of extraordinarily intelligent animals like parrots?” Acknowledgments For this work, which took more than two and a half years to research and write, I amassed thousands of documents and conducted several hundred interviews with leading scientists, environmentalists, paleontologists, ecological economists, conservationists, global warming experts, federal law enforcement officers, animal control officers, avian researchers, avian rescuers, veterinarians, breeders, pet bird owners, bird clubs, pet bird industry executives and employees, sanctuaries and welfare organizations, legislators, and officials with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and other sources in the United States and around the world.” 0 likes
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