P roud owner of 60-plus parrots, ranging from huge macaws to tiny parakeets, the Parrot Rebbe — whose real name is Rabbi Nochem Guber — has been giving shows with his birds for more than a decade. These beautiful birds and their owner have delighted audiences across New York State, New Jersey, and beyond. How did the show develop, and how in the world did Rabbi Guber acquire so many birds?

“I always had animals — turtles, fish, birds,” explains Rabbi Guber, a Bobover chassid, who in regular life sells tashmishei kedushah (yarmulkes, tzitzis, and more) and makes tzitzis in his hometown of Monsey. “About 12 years ago, my youngest daughter was learning alef-beis in kindergarten, and the teacher asked if I could bring in a feigeleh (Yiddish for bird) for the letter pei. I said sure.

“As I was putting the birdcage in the car, a neighbor saw me and asked where I was going, thinking I was giving a show. I explained it was just for my daughter’s school, and she said, ‘I work in an afterschool program, could you come to us, too?’ One thing led to another, and before long I had created a full performance.”

What makes the Parrot Rebbe’s show unique? Well, for one thing, all his birds understand Yiddish! “Not all parrots speak, it’s a mistake to think that,” Rabbi Guber notes. “But the birds I own that do speak, all speak in Yiddish, and I give them their commands in Yiddish as well.”

Rabbi Guber’s show is very interactive; the parrots fly around the room and perch on people’s fingers and shoulders. They’re all tame, and Rabbi G’s audiences love the chance to hold the birds and talk to them. And if they answer back? All the better!

“My show is about 45 minutes long,” the Parrot Rebbe explains. “Each performance has the same basic structure; the birds dance, race up ladders, and stand on people as if they’re a tree. They also fly onto props that I pass out to the audience. Then, based on the audience, I decide how much time to allot to the performance and how much for interaction afterward. For example, I give a show to a special-needs camp, where the kids don’t have the patience for a regular show, so we shorten it. But they love the interactive part.”

Where does the Parrot Rebbe keep all his unique pets? “I have a room with air filtration within the garage for them, with heating for the winter,” Rabbi Guber says. One of his favorites is a big African gray parrot named “Ofi” who speaks a beautiful Yiddish. “He’s very friendly, but he’s not colorful, so I don’t usually take him on shows. He teaches the other birds to talk, though.”

Talking isn’t part of the show, explains Rabbi Guber, because birds don’t necessarily talk on demand. “I only have the birds perform with behaviors they would do naturally,” he says. “Otherwise it puts pressure on them.”

Although he owns 75 birds, including approximately 60 parrots, only 14 or 15 go along for each show. Each bird has a special traveling cage, which gets packed tightly into the back of the car so they don’t rattle around.

How, though, do all the birds get back into their cages at the end of show? “I don’t take them all out at once,” the Parrot Rebbe explains. “At the end of the show, I ask people to bring the parrots back and then I put them in their cages.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 671)