Snowball the cockatoo tells all

Hancock author puts bird’s illustrious life down on paper

  • Sy Montgomery's most recent children's book tell the story of a cockatoo that became an Internet sensation.<br/>Courtesy Photo
  • Illustrator Judith Oksner, left, and author Sy Montgomery, at a recent book store event promoting Montgomery's latest children's book, "Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo."<br/>Courtesy Photo
  • Fans flock to photograph Snowball the cockatoo at a recent promotional event in New York City.<br/><br/>Courtesy Photo
  • Fans flock to photograph Snowball the cockatoo at a recent promotional event in New York City.<br/><br/>Courtesy Photo

Snowball the cockatoo was dropped off at a bird rescue organization in North Carolina after he bit his former owner when she returned from college. Along with the bird, Irena Schulz of Bird Lovers Only received a video clip of Snowball “dancing” to the music of the Backstreet Boys.

She thought the video was cute, posted it on the Internet, and the next thing she knew, Snowball had gone viral.

“It’s a riot to watch,” says Hancock author Sy Montgomery about the video. “Snowball started rocking out. It’s not just a little head bobbing here. He syncs to the beat.”

Now Montgomery, the author of many books about nature and science for both adults and children, has written “Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo,” a children’s book that tells the bird’s story in his own voice.

“He became a huge sensation,” she says. “He was on Letterman, on ‘Ellen.’ He’s done commercials. And I got to meet him. I spent my 52nd birthday dancing with Snowball. I got to know him pretty well. He didn’t actually dictate the book to me, but I think I know how he would have.”

On May 16, Montgomery and illustrator Judith Oksner, a seasonal resident of Hancock, will present the book — and show several videos of Snowball dancing — at 7 p.m. at the Hancock Public Library.

In the book, a preening, wisecracking Snowball tells the story of his rise to stardom. He describes being dropped off at Bird Lovers Only, being “discovered” as a dancer by Schulz, who he dubs “Yellow Crest,” and appearing alongside Schulz on national TV. Snowball also inspired the World’s First Dance-Off Competition on the Bird Channel and has prompted a scientific study by Dr. Aniruddh Patel at the San Diego-based Neurosciences Institute, who noticed his ability to dance to different tempos.

Montgomery met Schulz and Snowball while researching her most recent adult book, “Birdology.” She recruited Oksner to do the illustrations and arranged publication with Sarah Bauhan, a Hancock resident whose company, Bauhan Publishing, is based in Peterborough.

“I love that it’s an all-Hancock crew,” Montgomery said.

Bauhan Publishing has donated 1,000 copies of the book to Bird Lovers Only, to be sold to benefit the rescue organization. Montgomery is also donating her royalties to Bird Lovers Only.

The Hancock event is free.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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