"A creature who lives without borders in a world we can hardly fathom. Yet millions live among us... in captivity."
So begins Parrot Confidential, an hour-long documentary about the U.S.'s current pet parrot crisis and the plight of their wild kin.
Created by the award-winning wildlife documentary production company ArgoFilms, it premiered on the PBS Nature channel last November.
Today, I finally sat down and watched it. Here's what the film taught me:
1. Nearly a third of all wild parrots are endangered.
A dire statistic. Why? Habitat loss and poaching are likely the biggest reasons.
2. Captive parrot estimates range from 10 to 40 million in the U.S. alone.
The illicit trade in wild birds is a multibillion dollar, world-wide industry. In 1992, after the U.S. banned the importation of wild birds, domestic breeding boomed. Now, there is a huge problem arising as thousands of unwanted parrots -- which can live up to 90 years old -- are being abandoned by their owners.
3. Parrots are complex creatures, "right up there with apes and humans."
Bird brains, schmird brains. With a large brain, highly advanced language skills, and leading complex social lives in the wild, let's face it: parrots are almost on par with, well, us. They speak in regional dialects, can differentiate between colors, and exhibit a variety of behavioral qualities; including, as one rescuer puts it, the ability to "carry emotional baggage."