Noe Valley Voice June 1998

Letters to the Editor

The Voice welcomes letters to the editor. Write the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez St., San Francisco, CA 94114. Or send e-mail to Please include your name, address, and phone number, so we can contact you if we have questions.

How to Tell a Cherry-Head from a Canary-Wing


I've been studying the north waterfront flock of cherry-headed conures for the past 41/2 years. Along the way I've picked up information on the flock of canary-wings that you're seeing in Noe Valley.

The canary-wings began in the Fort Mason to Telegraph Hill area in the early 1970s. Although I've heard a lot of different versions and rumors about how these flocks got started, I'm inclined to believe one story that the founding members of the canary-wing flock escaped from an aviary on a rooftop on Russian Hill. I once received a phone call from a man who knew the owners of the birds. I don't know how many birds the flock started out with, but they did start breeding and the flock enlarged. They appear in Armistead Maupin's book Tales of the City as the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill.

I recently came upon an article written by a woman who studied this flock as part of her Ph.D. thesis. She states that by the late '70s, the flock's territory extended from the Fort Mason ­ Telegraph Hill area to the Dolores Park area, which had become their breeding grounds.

A cherry-headed conure flew with this flock for several years. This bird found a mate of its own species and left the flock somewhere between 1985 and 1987. In 1989, the pair of cherry-heads began breeding and kicked the canary-wings out of this end of town.

The canary-wings' territory now seems to extend from Potrero Hill to Noe Valley. They apparently still nest in the palms along Dolores Street.

Last summer I received two reports that a group of around 10 cherry-heads was briefly in the Noe Valley area. If this is true, I'm sure it is "my" group feeding on certain trees, the knowledge of which would have been passed down over the years from the time that the single cherry-head flew with the canary-wings.

The cherry-heads are green with bright red heads and have red patches on the shoulders of their wings. They are about a foot long. Should you ever hear of such a group of birds appearing in your area, I would like to hear about it.

Mark Bittner

Judge the Candidates on Merit


Your May 1998 issue contained a page of endorsements paid for by the Noe Valley Democratic Club. Especially in judicial cases, which in my view are nonpartisan, your paper should be informing the Noe Valley electorate of endorsements based on merit, not political affiliation.

Ken Garcia of the Chronicle, in a May 5 story titled "Judges' Race Takes Wrong Turn," states that "justice may not always be blind, but it is not supposed to be politically correct, a member of any coalition, or dependent on party affiliation."

What really should matter in a judicial race is which candidate is best qualified by experience, dedication, and temperament to sit on the bench.

At almost the same time as your paper went to print, the San Francisco Bar Association's ratings of judicial candidates were released (May 5, 1998). This is a professional judgment of candidates by their peers.

Judge David Ballati was rated "exceptionally well qualified" (the highest rating). His opponent for Municipal Court Seat #7, Marla Zamora, was rated "not qualified at this time." She was endorsed by the Noe Valley Democratic Club, and in effect by your paper.

As a lifelong Democratic Party member, I would hope that both the party and the newspaper would take the politics out of judicial races in the future. The misinformation you published can't be undone now, alas.

Charles K. Humbert

Dolores Street

Editor's Note: Paid political advertisements, such as those placed by the Noe Valley Democratic Club in the May issue, do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of the Noe Valley Voice.

Drewes Market Is There for You

Friends and Neighbors in Noe Valley:

I'm writing to ask for your help. I have been serving you since 1984 at Drewes Meats, a full-service meat, poultry, and fish market on Church Street near 29th. It has been my pleasure! And I want to keep serving you for many years to come.

The problem is, since February of this year, my business has been dropping. It's now down 40 percent!

One reason may be the lack of parking. First it was the construction of the ramps. Then the demolition and rebuilding of St. Paul's School. And now the construction of a new Thai restaurant and a soon-to-open coffeehouse.

It's been very hard on everyone on outer Church Street. But we are still here for you six days a week. I did have to close on Sundays because of my elbow surgery and to save on payroll expenses to keep costs down.

Rent, PG&E, and insurance costs are still there, of course -- which is why I thought I would help Stellings Market out by allowing some of that business to move into our store when I heard it was going to close. I know our store doesn't look the same. But I assure you we are! Please be patient while Stellings gets its side of the shop organized.

I hope I didn't LOSE ANYONE because of this change. We really are trying to do our best to be able to stay here for you! If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you.

Dave McCarroll

Owner, Drewes Meats