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Audiograph's Sound of the Week: Parrots of Telegraph Hill

Flickr user pix.plz

All week long we've been playing this sound, and asking you to guess what exactly it is and where exactly in the Bay Area we recorded it.

This auditory guessing game is part of our new project, Audiograph, a crowd-sourced collaborative radio project mapping the sonic signature of each of the Bay Area’s nine counties. By using the sounds of voices, nature, industry, and music, Audiograph tells the story of where you live, and the people who live there with you. Every Thursday, we reveal the origins of that week's sound on Crosscurrents, and here in weekly blog posts.

KALW's Leila Day brings us this week's answer...

Ever since I moved to San Francisco, I’ve been told about the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill. Lots of people claim to have seen--and heard--them in their backyards, but they’re most famous for hanging around the gardens up by Coit tower, so I decided to spend a day here, trying to track them down.

I was once told by a native San Franciscan that it would sound like a thousand screaming babies flying toward me -- And these birds…they don’t sound like that.

It’s even harder to find these birds because I can’t just offer them birdseed and have them land on my shoulder. That’s now illegal. We aren’t supposed to feed the wild parrots. Up ahead, on Telegraph Hill, I see a man working in a garden, near his house. His name is Julian Chatneuff.

Chatneuff points out that, “Whenever they wake up they fly through here, go somewhere in San Francisco, and come back about four or five o’clock. You’ll hear them before you see them, and then you’ll see them by the dozens.”

I take a seat on a step and look up into the trees. The green birds are hopping from branch to branch like little monkeys, drowning out the sounds of the cars below. Some people walk by and don’t even look up. 

Then I see a guy wearing a leather cowboy hat. He’s definitely looking up. His name is Chris Vardijan and he’s a tour guide who cuts through the garden on his way home. 

“Nobody knows exactly where they came from. People think they were escaped pets, but it started with a few and now there are hundreds living here wild.” Vardijan adds, "They just go where they decide to, you know the city’s not that big, just seven miles by seven miles. So, they’ll go just about anywhere, where there’s nice places to roost and hang out.”

Though the quest to find these little green creatures wasn't as difficult as I was anticipating, it still made San Francisco feel a little bit more wild.

Congratulations to this week's winner, Edison Andrade. We'll have a new sound for you to guess and another chance to win on Saturday. 

In the meantime, is there a sound from your life that should be featured on Audiograph? Call at 415-264-7106 and tell us about the sound of where you live.

Check out our FacebookTwitter and Soundcloud pages to hear more from Audiograph.