Seadogs and Their Parrots: The Reality of Pretty Polly

Author(s): Megan C. Anderson

Year: 2015


            Public imagination was long ago ensnared by images of swashbuckling pirates and their winged sidekicks.  Exotic plumes illustrated by Howard Pyle and famous parrots such as Captain Flint have led to many misconceptions about the reality of avian pets on ships and their greater role in the seafaring community.  The transportation of parrots from exotic locales into western culture provides a unique opportunity to study the seamen involved in this exchange and lends insight into how this group fit into the larger social paradigm of European and American culture.  Focusing on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this analysis draws evidence from primary accounts, newspapers, legal documents, artwork, and archaeology to identify the social functions of bird ownership among sailors.   While parrots such as Captain Flint will always hold sway over popular conceptions, this analysis opens up a new understanding of sailors and their "Pretty Pollys."

Cite this Record

Seadogs and Their Parrots: The Reality of Pretty Polly. Megan C. Anderson. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433979)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 239