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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Close encounters of another kind

You know, in the Bay Area, we're used to seeing all kinds of things, people, animals, and we sort of get used to the diversity and the unusual. But I still find it a little bit shocking to see wild animals hang out with humans in a relatively dense urban area.

I think I mentioned the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill on this blog, before, didn't I? They're still around and you'll probably hear them before you see them, if you walk up to that area. And, although I've never seen it myself, I've been told by several people that there is another flock, just like the one on Telegraph Hill, living in the Mission District and hanging out in the tall palm trees of Dolores Ave.

(My apologies for the quality of this picture, by the way. You can kinda see a couple of parrots at the end of the branch, towards the center of the picture, but there were maybe 50 of them in that trees, so if you can manage to see the little round masses within the leaves, that's them!)

This is what they really look like (Photo Judy Irving)

When I lived in Marin County (North of the Golden Gate Bridge), I used to share my outdoors living space with a lot of critters. We had deer, raccoons, skunks, and even an opossum that became a little too friendly for my taste. After a while, he'd gotten into the habit of sleeping at my front door and, once or twice, even slipped into the living room when I wasn't looking! And the family of raccoons, who at first had first had been content to hang out on the roof above me during the Summer evenings, once or twice tried to open the living room sliding glass door .... knowing damn well I was watching TV right on the other side!

Anyway, when I moved to be closer to my job in San Francisco, I thought I'd stop seeing much of these four-legged friends. While I haven't come across a raccoon or an opossum in a while, I still see a lot of these guys (above) who, unlike the French variety, do not seem to be afraid of people. There is one hanging out on my deck on a regular basis and as long as he doesn't try to get in, I suppose we'll stay good friends. :-)

There are tons of birds around here, especially since I'm uphill now, but I do not know how to recognize most of them and by the time the camera is ready, they're usually long gone.

A couple of months ago, I was coming back from a party and was driving through downtown Oakland, California, when I found this guy having a meal in a parking lot behind a few parked cars. As it turns out, he (she, I think?) was quite people-friendly, and of course, not wild at all. But you'll admit it's not an everyday sight, not even here in the Bay Area, and I just had to stop and shoot it.

And yesterday, I was driving through the neighborhood and saw a little group of people frozen on the sidewalk, pointing to this pair of wild turkeys on the other side of the street... The birds hung around for a minute or two, just long enough for me to pull out the camera, but they disappeared pretty quickly ...

I'm pretty sure somebody must have tipped them... Thanksgiving is only a month away!

* * *

Check out this incredible, colorful documentary called Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill to learn about these wild San Francisco birds and how Mark Bittner took care of them for years.