Arlene Powers Bird Art and Discussion Site

Guest Blog!

Meanwhile…..Back at the ranch…….We have a guest blog from Charlotte Fox, the business Manager of the Oasis Bird Sanctuary. The Painting of Mingus is being donated to the Oasis and will be raffled off later in the year to raise funds for the Oasis. With out further ado, Charlotte:MingusSm

And Then There Was One…

By Charlotte Fox, Business Manager

I’m sure most of you have seen the movie and/or read the book The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner, so you already know about the Cherry-Headed Conures that Mark brought to The Oasis in August 1999.  (If you have not seen the movie, I highly recommend it!)

To refresh your memory:  Anditson (Andi), Yosemite and Ginsberg were part of the feral Conure flock in San Francisco.  Mark took them in as juveniles when they contracted a virus and suffered neurological impairments.  When Mingus showed up at Mark’s house in 1992, he already had adult plumage.  He had tried to join the flock of wild Conures but was clearly an outsider.  He had a crippled leg (which was due to a broken pelvis) and was unable to keep up with the flock so Mark also took him inside.  It became apparent why Mingus welcomed the opportunity to live in Mark’s house – he was fairly tame and had a band on his leg.  He had obviously been someone’s pet that got loose (either deliberately or by accident… we’ll never know).  When Mark moved from San Francisco in 1999, he brought the four very special birds to live at The Oasis.

Only Mingus was able to fly.  Yosemite and Ginsberg were not even able to perch, although they were excellent climbers.  At first we thought the four birds could live together but Yosemite and Mingus got into constant squabbles, so we housed the pairs in adjoining specially built enclosures to compensate for their handicaps.  Mingus had bonded with Andi, and Ginsberg and Yosemite were paired together.

Ginsberg, the weakest of the group, passed away in October 2001.  Over the next few years Yosemite had different cagemates that we thought would be suitable companions for him.  Although he enjoyed their company, he never bonded with any of them and preferred to hang out as close to Mingus and Andi’s cage as he could.  They lived in outdoor enclosures during the warm months but always spent the winter indoors.

When the movie The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill was released in 2005, our three Cherry-Headed Conures became celebrities, especially Mingus who was the “star” of the movie.  We received calls and e-mails from all over the country asking about him.

On July 15, 2010, we discovered Yosemite in distress and rushed him to the hospital.  Sadly, he died moments later in Janet’s hands.  We decided that because of Andi’s precarious health and increasing disabilities, she and Mingus would live indoors year-round where the temperature is constant and we could monitor her more closely.  The two birds didn’t care where they were, as long as they were together.

On September 2, 2011, Andi appeared to have suffered a seizure or stroke and she worsened during the day.  That evening she ate and drank a little and was strong enough to give Janet a nip and a growl, but she passed away the following day.  The necropsy showed the cause of death as E. coli enteritis.  

We watched Mingus closely and per the vet’s instructions, treated him with medication as a precaution to make sure he didn’t also have E.coli.  He grieved heavily for Andi – for many days he appeared exhausted and slept a lot.  But then a transformation took place!  We hadn’t been able to let Andi out of the cage before because it wasn’t safe for her, and Mingus never left her side.  Now we can open the cage door and Mingus will come out for exercise and to visit with the other birds.  Surprisingly, he is still a good flier and loves his new-found freedom.

As a fitting end to this story, Mark Bittner and his wife, Judy Irving, buried the ashes of Ginsberg, Yosemite and Andi on Telegraph Hill, so they can once again fly free with their flock of feral Cherry-Headed Conures.

Thanks so much to Charlotte for being our guest blogger! Mingus is still healthy and happy to date, if you have not seen the Movie, it is awesome! Stay tuned………




Comments on: "Guest Blog!" (2)

  1. Hi Charlotte,
    Thanks for sharing the story and update about these incredible birds! I’m thrilled Mingus is doing so well. Are you following the EssentialBird group on yahoo? I have been amazed to witness the miraculous recoveries, when little hope is left, coming out of the work of that group.
    Keep up the GREAT work that you are doing at the Oasis!!!

  2. Mary Ann Andrukiewicz said:

    Thank you for such a heart touching story. I spent 3 days volunteering at the Oasis in February and was fortunate to meet and interact a little with Mingus and so many other special birds. I love the painting. You are very talented and do capture nature’s beauties so well.

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