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33 years of Reno: Macaw parrot loved by generations of Oak Harbor residents
Customers at Island Pet Center will no longer see a friendly face at the back of the store.
Reno, the macaw parrot, died Tuesday, Nov. 19.
“I was 15 and half years old when I took her out of the box for the first time,” said Brian Knoll, Island Pet Center owner.
Reno has been a prominent figure at the store for 33 years. The store opened 36 years ago.
Knoll raised Reno to be his pet, and wanted the parrot to have a fitting name.
“It was a flashy name for a flashy bird,” Knoll said.
And she lived up to her name.
“She was a funny bird and yelled at you when you least expected it,” said Janay Baeyen, Island Pet Center employee.
She would shout out to you walking to the back room and just say; “Hello,” Baeyen said.
“She had her days when she was really cranky,” Knoll said. “She had a lot of personality. She thrived on the interaction with people.”
Over the years, Reno had expanded her vocabulary to include almost 40 words. Some of her most spoken were “hello,” “cracker” and her favorite “what?” Knoll said.
And she kept learning. Knoll said macaws are intelligent birds and he loved having Reno as a pet
She learned to say: “Polly wanna cracker” for the first time last week too, Baeyen said.
Customers would come up to the cage and try to make her say things and as soon as they would give up and walk away, she’d answer.
“She knew how to play people,” Knoll said.
Every night when employee Tanzi Cordin would close, Reno would tell her “goodnight.”
Cordin said Reno was a part of the store family. She was just like any family member who had their mood swings. She was a lucky bird to have so many people to interact with, she said.
“Every day she got to see so many people, and they were happy she was here too,” Cordin said.
For the first 15 years of her life, no one knew that Reno was a female and everyone assumed she was male until she laid her first egg, Knoll said. “That was a little bit of a surprise,” Knoll said.
Reno had been battling an inoperable tumor for the last several years. Parrots can have the life spans of humans but it’s amazing to have an animal that lived so long, Knoll said.
Reno had a multigenerational connection with the community, Knoll said. People who are in early adulthood remember coming in with their parents to see her. And when they started their own families they brought their children in to meet her too.
“It’s one of those consistent threads for people,” Knoll said. “There’s the pet store with the bird Reno.”
And she was there for all the changes and expansions the store has been through over the years. From starting out with 400 square feet in 1977, to expanding to 8,000 square feet at its current location on 1381 S.W. Barlow St. she was there for almost all of it.
Knoll said Reno is irreplaceable and doesn’t plan on getting another bird.
One customer who came was concerned that the cage wasn’t going to be there when they came in. Reno’s cage is still at the store. Knoll placed a photo of her in it and left the cage door open. Eventually the cage will have to move, but for now it will stay so customers have a chance to say goodbye.