MILWAUKEE — "It's kind of humbling to be 64 and be most famous for riding a bicycle with a parrot. But hey, there’s worse things to be infamous for than that."
That is Herb from New Berlin. He is known as the 'bird guy' or 'parrot man'. He rides around town with his bird, Sammy, in a cage on the front of his bike. They do about 10 to 15 miles each ride. Sometimes he bikes around Milwaukee's Lakeshore State Park or Waukesha's Frame Park or the New Berlin Trail.
Why does he do it? Simply to bring joy to people and get a little exercise.
"Just the opportunity to give people a smile or a chuckle is a nice thing," he said.
During a ride through Lakeshore State Park on Wednesday, a father and son stopped to talk to Herb and multiple people commented about Sammy as they passed by. In fact, one person on his bike shouted something along the lines of 'I know you' to Herb before riding away.
Sammy is Herb's newer bird companion. He just debuted him to the world in late August. Sammy is a 12-year-old Red-lored amazon parrot. Before that, Herb had Barney. That is the bird Herb became famous for. The two would gear up and hit the bike trails of Southeastern Wisconsin for about nine years. At the suggestion of his daughter, he created a Facebook page called Barney The Biking Bird. It became a hit with 11,000 likes on Facebook. The two traveled almost 24,000 miles together.
"24,000 miles is - that's like a full-time job for a year," he said. Herb estimates they rode for about 2,400 hours at roughly 10 miles per hour.
Sadly, Barney died in March 2022. That's when Herb decided to rescue Sammy. His new bird companion has a broken wing and can't fly. What Sammy lacks in flying, he makes up for by talking.
“You know, I believe one of his previous owners was probably a politician because he says a lot without saying anything," Herb said.
Parrots can live for more than 40 years. Herb is hoping that he and Sammy can continue riding for the next 20 years. So don't be surprised if you see the 'parrot man' or 'bird guy' biking around a park near you. That's just Herb doing what he loves.