People Call on Snellville’s “Bird Whisperer” to Entertain, Educate, and Rescue

by Heidi Campbell

Brenda Bean, the owner of Parrot Productions, is not a native of Georgia. In fact, her father was in the oil business, so her childhood was spent in twenty-two different schools in interesting places like Alaska, North Africa, and Texas. She moved to Georgia in 1987, and once her children were grown, she began promoting her business, which offers bird shows, grooming services, and bird training for people needing help with their pets. “I love sharing my knowledge of birds with people old and young,” says Bean. “Birds are truly the most intelligent pets I’ve come across.”

Parrot Productions puts on shows for parties, schools, retirement homes, libraries, and hospices, and sets up at numerous fairs and festivals. Recently at Fernbank’s Pirate Day, for example, Bean set up her birds so that visitors were able to interact and meet her “performers.” Her flock of parrots includes Cash and Lucy, a pair of Solomon Island Eclectus, African parrots Edgar and Baby Gray, a couple of Caiques and Cockatoos, and several large Macaws – Harold, Amelia, and, finally, Max, a large Hyacinth Macaw, who stretches to nearly four feet long. Bean calls Max her “gentle giant,” and with Royce, the black Palm Cockatoo, her collection of tame exotic parrots is very impressive. The origins of her birds stem from Indonesia, Africa, South America, and Australia, yet they all, according to Bean, “sit together peacefully, even within striking distance!”

The Parrot Production bird shows are tailored to their specific audiences, and all include education about the birds, a short, humorous skit, and at least forty-five minutes for the audience members to cuddle, touch, and learn about the birds. According to Bean, the most gratifying part of her work is the frequent opportunities she gets to use her birds therapeutically. “I love to visit retirement homes and the hospice centers,” she says. “These people are nearing the end of their life, and they’ve often never held a bird. It is neat to add one more thing that they haven’t done.”

Bean remembers getting her first bird, a parakeet, when she was fourteen, and by the early 80s, she began training birds. She started buying birds and training them, and the business naturally grew from there. Bean buys birds as naked babies from breeders, hand-feeds them with a syringe 4-5 times a day, and then finds homes for them. When she sells a bird, she includes free grooming for them, which includes wings, beaks and toenails. “I usually try to find them homes while they are still being hand fed,” explains Bean. “It is important to bond with the birds, and hand feeding them really helps that process.”

Anyone who has seen Bean’s rapport with her birds realizes that she has a deep understanding of birds. She recalls her mother’s yellow nape Amazon, a South American Parrot named Gallager. He went through a grieving period when her mother passed away, and Bean recalls, “He loved my mother, and he thought I’d done something to her. He was angry and he didn’t like me. Luckily, I found him a new home and he loves his new owner. Animals know more than we give them credit for, especially their ability to cope with different things in life.”

Many bird owners call on Parrot Productions for help with bad bird behaviors. She teaches her clients techniques to avoid a bird bite and shows how providing structure leads to better-behaved birds. She learned to train birds through trial and error, and believes that they respond to energy better than anything else. Sometimes, according to Bean, the bad behaviors are because there is a failure to communicate. “Birds only love one person, and some mate for life,” explains Bean. “But we can teach them how to love again and how to trust again. Most of the time, we can do it in one session, as long as the client follows through with our advice and techniques.”

Karma, one of Bean’s parrots, is fifty years old, has a vocabulary of over one hundred words, and can even sing Here Comes Peter Cottontail. Karma is another example of a bird that was able to find love again. When her owner passed away, Karma was angry and heartbroken. One of Bean’s main volunteers, Beth Royals, says, “Karma absolutely loves Brenda. She saved this bird’s heart. Karma really doesn’t like me, and tries to get me to leave whenever I’m around! In fact, when I start to walk away, she says, ‘Bye, bye! Have a good day!’”

Known by her grandchildren as “Nana” and “Nana B,” Brenda Bean is a nurturing soul who truly cares for her community. She volunteers for Agape Hospice each month, and performs shows for Grace Fellowship Church. She also works with rescue birds to help them find caring homes. Bean believes that it is crucial that people not catch birds from the wild because birds should not be taken from their natural habitats. “She has a way of connecting people and birds,” explains volunteer Royals, “and it is amazing to see what I call ‘unicorn moments’ – when someone holds a bird and you can see that they bond with it.”

Parrot Productions hopes to open a physical venue in the Snellville area soon, where they can host birthday parties and training classes. Bean finds that the best part of her work is bringing people, parrots, and education together. “It is magic when you hold a bird and realize it wants to play with you. These creatures are so intelligent it just boggles the mind. I find pure joy in these birds, especially when they want to cuddle with me!”

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