Show us your . . . liquor store cockatoo | Show us your [____] | Chicago Reader

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Show us your . . . liquor store cockatoo

The owner of Bel-Port Liquors introduces the cockatoo living among his store's bottles of booze.


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A squawk rings out from the northeast corner of Belmont and Southport, just across the street from Schubas. Sasha, the resident Australian cockatoo at Bel-Port Liquors, has likely spotted a human and can't resist a yell. During her three years at the liquor store, she's become something of a local attraction.

Cockatoos sometimes live to be upwards of 60 years old, and Joe Barbari, owner of both the liquor store and Sasha, says that she'll stay with him as long as he's living. She actually celebrates her 17th birthday in August. An underage bird living in a liquor store, sure.

Sasha occupies the corner store year-round, moving to the back at night to sleep, and she's tended to by Barbari's family when he travels. She needs attention—at least two hours a day, according to Barbari—and she gets most of it by maintaining a local fan base.

Families and kids pop in to see Sasha as part of their daily routine. Barbari gets at least five people a day coming in just to take pictures with Sasha. A cockatoo in a liquor store sort of tops any cat in a bookstore.

And if Sasha's whistling isn't quite impressive enough, she also dances. For instance, play the hit "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Sasha will take off dancing on Barbari's shoulder. No doubt she gives the liquor store its personality.

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