Monday, July 20, 2009

The Parrot Who Owns Me

A few months ago I read "The Parrot Who Owns Me" by Joanna Burger. The author is a good writer; I looked forward to reading the book each night. She does a good job of blending personal anecdotes with science. The best parts are when she describes her research of parrots in South America.

This may be my own bias, though, because there were several aspects of her personal anecdotes that bothered me. First, she seems a bit insecure. She has a PhD. Oh and did you know that her husband is a doctor? She can make many assertions because, duh, she has a PhD. That means she knows things. Second, she gives her bird chocolate. Chocolate! And she doesn't mention that, by the way, it's poisonous to birds. Sure, in small doses, the bird was fine. But this book is read by people who don't know anything about birds. She should have been more cautious.

I've read many books about birds. This one is excellent because it's well organized. So many books are just a collection of people's experiences with no theme and many digressions. Burger is focused and clever. I recommend the book.

Does anyone have any good book recommendations? Right now I'm reading a non-bird related book, Infinite Jest, but I'm already tiring of it. I read "Of Parrots and People" after the first 100 pages of Infinite Jest, because I needed a break. Right now I'm on page 153, so I might need another break pretty soon.


  1. Yes, I read her book too, early on in my dealings with Sam, my Jardine's Parrot. It helped explain the nesting behaviors. I didn't remember the chocolate mention, so glad you pointed it out. As for reading materials, I'd recommend Wesley the Owl by Stacy O'Brien. I know, it's not about parrots, but many of the behaviors are similar and it's about an amazing and intelligent bird. The writer went to extraordinary lengths to make a good life for this captive barn owl and she comes from a standpoint of the deepest respect for these wild creatures. I found her views in sync with mine and appreciated that very much.

  2. Thanks Shannon! I'm happy to read any book about birds, so I'll put Wesley the Owl on my list.

  3. I also read it years ago and it's on my shelf, waiting for a reread. I do know in the second edition there's a disclaimer saying that she no longer feeds him chocolate.

    Another book I haven't read recently, but really enjoyed at the time and will reread (and does include parrots) is "Enslaved by Ducks"

  4. Mary,
    I'm so glad she put in a disclaimer! That makes me feel a lot better about the book.

    Thanks for the recommendation! It's on my list.

  5. The Parrot Who Thought She Was A Dog is very good also.

  6. Thanks Karla, that title is hilarious!


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