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Here's your reward peanut!
Here's your reward peanut!

Wendell Hansen's Bible Birds (Gone)

Field review by the editors.

Noblesville, Indiana

[Note: this story was written before Rev. Hansen's death in 2002]

Patriotism mixes with religion.

"You know, there are over 100 references to birds in the Bible, " Reverend Wendell Hansen of Hansen's Bible Birds reminds us. As if we needed to hear justification for the merger of two vacation mainstays -- the performing animal act and the religious attraction. This feathered Passion Play is a miracle....

Reverend Hansen, 90 (in 2000), has been presenting the Bible Bird Show since divine inspiration struck him over fifty years ago. Starting with a pair of Jacob's Ladder-climbing canaries, his bird-trick parables and mobile aviary grew to include macaws, doves, a toucan, a peacock and other well-behaved birds in an hour-long extravaganza.

In its heyday, the Bible Bird Show ranged through surrounding states and the East, spreading The Word By Bird in schools, churches and auditoriums. Shows are now confined near his home, but the Reverend's Bird Van is always ready to roll and set souls aflight. His piano-playing wife, Eunice, and son, Dean, assist the perky Quaker minister at every performance.

The show starts when John the Macaw says "PreEEEE-Zen-TEEEENG . . . WennnnnDELLHan . . . Zennnnn . . . " The Reverend's patter starts, fast and furious. A macaw sings "Jesus Loves Me," accompanied by Eunice's piano and fine voice. Later, Eunice plays "Silent Night" for the virgin birth, when the Reverend cradles a bird, and "Low in the Grave," when the bird plays dead. Birds cry out "PRAISE THE LORD" at odd moments; one keeps saying "Water ...Water ..."

Choosing between the rings of Salvation or Damnation.
Choosing between the rings of Salvation or Damnation.

The Reverend draws on simple, resonant themes to motivate his audiences. "You know, there's good Christians . . . and there's bad Christians . . . But when Judgment Day comes, the Lord will separate those Bad Christians and send them to Hell, just like Isaac is separating the blue and red rings!" Isaac uses his beak to separate the plastic rings, placing them correctly on the friendly blue post, or the red spike of damnation.

Despite some brimstone shockers, the show is gentle; no crucifixion scenes or Old Testament pillars of salt. The Reverend does salt a bird's tail at one point, but the lessons are ambiguous. Should we wear little bibs and flip over backwards a dozen times? Did Jesus die so that someone would feed him a peanut?

Wendell Hansen's Bible Birds.

Silently Dean sets the next prop in place -- in this case, a church with a music machine inside it. "Put money in the church . . . that's where the money should go," reminds the Reverend, giving Jeremiah a dime. The bird tithes, and "Silent Night" plays from the music machine inside.

Two doves obediently sit in a small wooden chariot; they are pulled by a parrot, because "we should bear one another's burdens." A small black Uroka swallows a sword "the full length of his body"(Matthew 26:52). Later the Reverend puts a bird's head in his mouth.

The American flag is dutifully raised by one macaw as another poses, bald eagle-style, on the pole. God, Country and Bird blend gloriously into one. The Bird Van heads off to another gig, pious squawks and screeches echoing in its wake.

in the Bible, " Reverend Wendell Hansen of Hansen's Bible Birds reminds us. As if we needed to hear justification for the merger of two vacation mainstays -- the performing animal act and the religious attraction. This feathered Passion Play is a miracle....

January 2004: The show goes on

November 2002: Wendell Hansen passed away on Sept. 29, 2002.

August 1999: The Bible Bird van made a special appearance at the Wigwam Village in Cave City, KY. Dr. Hansen and family were doing well, and the show was fabulous.

1997: The Reverend had a bout with pneumonia in 1996, but at last report he was back on his feet and doing fine. The Bird Van still does the local Sunday School circuit. Wendell has had a couple of international TV appearances since our story on him in New Roadside America. "Japan came out and put me on the Fuji Network. 400 million viewers."

Barnabas the Cockatoo has finally learned how to paint an "L" on a canvas that says "OVE." Wendell is putting the finishing touches on his book on the tragedy of drug abuse, which he's been writing for at least five years.

Wendell Hansen's Bible Birds

Rev. died in 2002, show moved to another ministry.

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