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Of Parrots And People [Hardcover]

Mira Tweti
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 19 2008 0670019690 978-0670019694 1
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 that pound for pound parrots are worth more on the black market than cocaine. Their startling beauty, social sophistication, and uncanny ability to bond with humans have made parrots sought-after pets, but few people realize how fragile and endangered many parrot species have become.

In Of Parrots and People, award-winning journalist and parrot expert, Mira Tweti, reveals the world of a family of birds that is far more complex and advanced than we've acknowledged. Tweti relates stunning scientific findings on the intelligence, personality, and rich lives of parrots that challenge our most widespread and flawed assumptions about non-primates. And she explores the intense and often humorous emotional connections these birds form not just with their flockmates, but with the "parronts" (as some "parrot parents" call themselves) who keep them as pets, often pampering them as they do children.

Of Parrots and People also takes on the much larger, serious issues of animal welfare that are the unfortunate consequences of the "bird boom" of the last few decades. Despite the high demand for them, many parrot species are endangered in the wild from rampant trapping and habitat destruction, while those in captivity are quickly becoming the fastest growing category of unwanted pets, living lives of neglect or abuse. Avian rescuers can't handle the number of birds that need help, and the Humane Society of the U.S. is advocating euthanasia rather than warehousing birds that will outlive their caretakers. Yet unregulated bird breeders continue to put over a million young birds on the market each year from parrot mills across the country. It's an untenable situation of cruelty, especially for such an evolved and intelligent species, and it's just one of the many newsworthy topics that make Of Parrots and People just as hard-hitting as it is soft-hearted. Tweti tirelessly follows the parrot trail around the globe, from the living rooms and pet stores of America, to hotbeds of illegal trade in Mexico. She examines threats of avian flu, and takes a first hand look at encouraging progress in eco-tourism that may be our only way to protect these stunning species from being hunted to extinction.

Comprehensive in scope and passionately written, Of Parrots and People is a unique and vivid addition to popular works on animals and their behavior, and an important new voice in the burgeoning environmental and conservation movement.

Product Details

Product Description


The most important book published on the state of our relationship with parrots."
-Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO, Humane Society of the United States

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars of Parrots and People March 13 2009
Outstandingly interesting book about companion parrots, the history of parrots, the parrot industry, breeding, wild birds etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential readingfor parrot owners Jan. 25 2010
Absolutely ESSENTIAL reading for all parrot owners, breeders, and especially food for anyone considering buying a parrot and supporting the harmful trade in these marvelous creatures.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Of Parrots and People July 27 2009
By Mel
A Simply Fabulous book that everyone must read! If anyone is even remotely considering buying a parrot -Please read this insightful book First!!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  39 reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Parrots and People Aug. 21 2008
By Jennifer Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Of parrots and people by Mira Tweti, is a vast collaboration of intense research and knowledge regarding parrots. I will have to say it has been quite some time since a book has held my interest so deeply that I spent two days reading it from cover to cover. I didn't want to put it down because I was so appalled at some of Tweti's findings. Tweti is an excellent researcher and has put together a single book that covers more than enough topics from avian history to avian future. Every current bird owner, prospective bird owner, and avian enthusiast should read this book. The stories are both heart wrenching and heartwarming. It really opened my eyes to the nature of bird economics, trapping, smuggling, and species survival/demise. Humans have really impacted the bird world by willingly torturing parrots and violently destroying their ecosystem. The end result is likely extinction of many innocent species. This book will make you truly think about the choices you make for your pets. My own feathered companions live harmoniously with humans, receive excellent care, and are regarded as part of my family. Tweti found that is not the case in most situations. Unlike many birds in unkempt breeding environments and unwanted birds I strive to meet the needs of my avian family members. I am a true animal lover and many of the stories were difficult to fathom. It is truly sickening to see and hear of such tragic situations. I too, have seen firsthand the disgust of neglected breeding environments on more than one occasion. It hurts me deeply. I truly cannot understand why people neglect and abuse such beautiful and intelligent creatures.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best parrot-related book ever. Dec 9 2008
By Amy Hopkins - Published on Amazon.com
Be forewarned. This is not a feel-good book for those people interested in the fun, exciting side of parrots.

Instead, it is a well-researched and presented book about all the ways that humans have interacted with and affected parrots over the years, both domestically and in the wild.

The author starts off with a chapter about parrot intelligence, followed by a chapter about parrot companions. From there, we travel to purgatory, then straight into hell. We are educated about the dark side of parrot breeding, and why there are so many parrot rescues and sanctuaries. The author goes to Mexico to follow the trail of parrot smuggling into the U.S. and barely manages to keep her composure, despite the horrors she witnesses. She spends a chapter on an undercover agent for U.S. Fish & Wildlife who has dedicated his life to stopping parrot smuggling. The chapter reads like an episode of Law and Order and is equally engrossing. She travels through South America with conservationist Charlie Munn and witnesses the glory of parrots in the wild. We learn about all the ways that human activity is driving parrots to extinction around the world. We even get to go along with her to meet Presley, one of the last remainng Spix's macaws in captivity, with all wild Spix's macaws already extinct. We learn about ecotourism and how it helps to save animals, such as parrots, in the wild.

This book should be required reading for anyone who lives with parrots, is contemplating getting a parrot, is interested in conservation, and, well, pretty much everyone. While parrots are the subject of the book, it could just as well be applied to animals in general. There are many stories in this book about reptile smuggling, another hot topic.

Ms. Tweti has written a well-researched and informative book which reads more like a crime novel than nonfiction book. Despite the horrors portrayed, the book is very commanding and difficult to put down. I cannot more strongly recommend this book.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Parrots and People Aug. 17 2008
By Sabra K. Brea - Published on Amazon.com
Having been involved with parrots for over 30 years and having now having my own Parrot rescue Sanctuary, I can say with conviction that this is one of the most amazing, well researched, delightful books I have ever read! The author covers alot of territory re: all aspects of captivity, abuse, behavior etc. it is a fascinating read and should be a keeper for all involved with parrots in any way or those contemplating acquiring a parrot. I congratulate Mira Tweti on a job well done!I am purchasing several copies for parrot friends. I could not put it down.A truly important and fantastic book! Sabra Brea, Sabra's Parrot Rescue
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all Aug. 29 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for all who are involved in any way with the "pet" bird industry, from the parokeet owner to the scarce macaw collector.
As a person who shares her home with four Macaws and an African Grey, I was certainly aware of the more uncomfortable moral aspects of captive birds, both from the individual bird's viewpoint and from a collection viewpoint. This book presents all the implications of the exotic bird trade in one package. It is well written and well presented. The facts seem to be accurate and impartial.
The topics included are not comfortable for we exotic bird owners, but this book will make you think about, not just the everyday living conditions of individual exotic birds in captivity, but our nation's and the world's public policies on unrenewable living resources like exotic animals.
Everyone who owns a bird should read this book and everyone who is thinking of acquiring a bird should be required to read this book.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Polemical. Some Good Points and Insights along with Some Distortions. Dec 31 2009
By mirasreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Some people might consider Mira Tweti a fanatic, because she doesn't believe in any captive breeding of parrots for the pet trade or that captive parrots should ever have their wings clipped. I might be one of those people. Tweti's intention is to present us with the current relationship between humans and parrots, both captive and wild, so that we see how dysfunctional and destructive that relationship is at times. "Of Parrots and People" largely succeeds in that goal by looking at the current state of parrots in the pet trade and in their natural habitat. Conditions are not what they should be for parrots and many populations seemed doomed to extinction.

Tweti begins by introducing the reader to the amazing cognitive, linguistic, and emotional capacity of parrots. The book's twelve chapters explore issues like: the crisis of unwanted birds and overburdened rescue facilities, feral flocks of non-native parrots in the United States, the plight of breeder birds on typical breeding farms, bird rescue organizations, parrot poaching and the illegal parrot trade, a US Fish & Wildlife Service Special Enforcement Agent's fight against parrot smuggling, and a trip to Brazil to see parrots in the wild with conservationist Charles Munn. She progresses from discussion of captive companion and breeding birds to the threats to wild parrot populations.

"Of Parrots and People" is not exhaustive on each topic, nor is it always objective, but it presents major parrot issues in a generally engaging style. I felt that Tweti could have done more to impress her readership with parrots' intelligence, to explain why they have such great needs in captivity and would be an extraordinary loss if they were extinct in the wild. People should be thinking of these birds as dolphin or elephants, as smarter than chimpanzees, by the time they finish the book, and I don't think they are. I was annoyed repeatedly by omissions and misstatements of facts to distort some issues. This is a polemic. But "Of Parrots and People" does illuminate the problems and provide insight into aspects of the parrot trade that even parrot lovers may not know about.
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