“Obesity is a big problem in this country,” said Barbara Perrow, a San Francisco tourist, “and we have to start somewhere.” Was this brilliant thinker talking about children? Adults over 50? All Americans? Guess again—Ms. Perrow, who hails from New Haven, Connecticut, was shocked, shocked! to find, upon visiting San Francisco, that her favorite celebrities, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, are getting fat and lazy because stupid humans insist on feeding them. Parrots, she says, should be left to fend for themselves.
This thesis, acsribed to by a slew of tourists, was somehow submitted to the Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee of the SF Board of Supervisors, who promptly passed a proposal banning the feeding of parrots. When and if it’s approved by the full Board, it’ll become law.
As one of the felons feeding apples and sunflower seeds to the parrots, I fear for my freedom—might I be jailed if my activities become illegal? Of course, I could just cease and desist—but first I want to know: what exactly are these parrots going to eat if I do? It’s not as if they’re living in the rain forest, dining on fat worms. Judy Irving, the film producer who made the parrots famous, says the birds are losing their ability to forage. Therefore I also want to know: what exactly are the birds going to forage for in the city? Avocado sandwiches and leftover pizza–impeccably wrapped and barely touched–judging from what a friend of mine says he finds in the dumpsters of San Francisco. Are sandwiches with aioli better for birds than apples? Are parrots more likely to stay slender and healthy eating pizza rather than sunflower seeds? And why is Irving worried anyway? Is she planning another film and wants the parrots to be in buff Hollywood condition?
A more pertinent question might be: doesn’t the SF Board of supervisors have anything more important to do than fret about obese parrots? Likewise, what’s up with these tourists? Did taking Carol Doda’s boobs down from the corner of Broadway and Columbus leave them with too much time on their hands? Aren’t the seals of Fisherman’s Wharf and the restaurants of North Beach enough to keep out-of-towners amused? Maybe someone should send them an invitation to a sex party.
I just know someone’s going to say I’m callous, that I don’t care sufficiently about Mother Nature’s creatures, that attitudes like mine are killing the planet. Not true! I am concerned about what the parrots eat. But this idea of letting them fend for themselves smacks of neo-conservatism—as if we’re turning them into “welfare queens,” or coddling them like illegal “aliens.” Until someone can tell me what the parrots will eat without my apples, or show me the scientific study that says I’m killing them with sunflower seeds, I have no intention of abandoning them.
Below: Lazy Parrots Eating Handouts from Callous Citizens
- All About the Conure Parrot: Description and FAQ (brighthub.com)