The cockatoo, Merlin, is different in kind from other birds or even other magician's assistants.
Merlin has worked for the last thirty years with the big names in the big rooms at the big hotels in Vegas. Names like Tony Curtis and Wayne Newton are part of his impressive resume.
The cockatoo worked with two generations of magicians. His first owner was well-known magician Ralph Adams. Upon his passing, Merlin and the rest of the senior Adams' props passed to his son, Ralph Adams' Jr.
Anthony Hernandez was a former student of the elder Mr. Adams' and received Merlin when Ralph Adams' Jr. retired.
Mr. Hernandez performs weekly at The Welk Theater in Escondido, California. Merlin will apparently soon join the Wednesday performances.
Dawn Morgan works as Mr. Hernandez' assistant and animal wrangler. "There's always four doves, a bunny, a dog, and now Merlin," she said. "We wanted a tiger, but somebody said you have to feed them live chickens, and I couldn't do that."
Merlin is a seasoned professional and by cockatoo standards just hitting his prime. Mr. Hernandez said cockatoo is expected to live another 40 to 60 years.
"He is really smart. He knows what's going on. All of our animals are family members —- Anthony and I have been together for eight years, and these are like our kids."
Mr. Hernandez performs a two-hour show every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the The Welk Theater in addition to a full schedule of other shows around Southern California. A check of his website reveals the demanding — but likely enjoyable — schedule of an up-and-coming magician.
Tickets for the Wednesday shows (and your chance to see Merlin) are $30 for adults and $10 for children, and can be purchased by calling 888-802-7649.
Visit The Welk Theater page here.
Check out Mr. Hernandez web site here.