Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nature enthusiasts excited about Wild Birds Unlimited's new location in Macomb

They can survive on their own. Still, Michigan winters are tough on birds and at this time of year they will be looking for reliable sources of food, water and shelter. So, if you’ve ever thought about expanding your hobbies to include birding, now would be a good time.

“I’ve always liked nature, trees, flowers, animals, bird, I enjoy all the sights, sounds and smells,” said Pam Gors, co-owner of the newly opened Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop on Hall Road in Macomb Township.  “I’m a Master Gardener and I love growing anything that benefits the three-Bs: birds, butterflies and bees.” That’s how and why her garden grows, to fulfill a purpose either as food or shelter for at least one of them. Among the plants that fit the criteria: three different varieties of milkweed for monarchs; an assortment of shrubs and trees that produce fruit preferred by birds; and lots and lots of flowers for the bees and hummingbirds.

This passion is one of the reasons Pam was keen on becoming a Wild Birds franchise owner. For her husband and co-owner Bob, it was not so much his love for birds but a yearning to be his own boss that prompted his move. “After 35 years, I was just tired of the corporate business world,” said Bob, who quit his job in information technology to man the store during the week. On weekends it is Pam, who is still working full time as an IT person who manages the store.

“I grew up in the grocery store business and I have the retail background,” said Bob.  “With her love of birds and my business experience this just seemed like a natural progression for us. We also have 2 acres that attract what seems like hundreds of birds.”
Not only because of the property but because of the amenities that it offers including everything from bird feeders and houses to bird fountains – which is often the last thing people think about over winter.

“Bird baths are really important,” Bob said. “People think birds can eat the snow during the winter but a source of water is not the only reason for the fountains. They also bathe in the water to clean their feathers. The cleaner the feathers the better job they do in insulating the bird from the cold.”

People also need to provide shelter for the birds. In the summer and through late fall there are places that shield birds from the elements and their predators but once the leaves are gone it’s open season on birds. Bob said something as simple as piling up twigs in the yard can provide shelter for a small bird. Another thing Bob points out to beginner birders is that birds can change color. “Some people think Gold finches leave in the winter but they’re still here. They lose their gold color in the last summer and early fall.”

Providing people with the most accurate information available on backyard birds is just part of the mission statement created by Bob and Pam. They also hope to provide enthusiasts with all of the products they might need. Whether it’s a $15 starter kit or a $200 bird house with stand and $300 binoculars they’re determined to make a go of the family’s new business.

“It was very scary at first to make such a huge change in career direction but we couldn’t be happier with our choice,” said Pam, who along with Bob encourages people to stop by the new store and check out their holiday displays.

Tips for winter bird feeding

In case you happen to be among the more than 53 million Americans who enjoy the hobby of backyard bird feeding here are a few tips for the winter courtesy of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop:

Provide high energy foods

·        Birds will use more energy to keep warm so they need more feed with high fat content

·        Seeds that help provide the extra calories birds need at this time of year includes: peanuts, thistle and seed blends high in sunflower seeds.

·        If you have visiting Juncos and native sparrow consider using blends with some millet.

Provide a suet feeder

·        A great source of high energy for birds is suet, which is actually beef fat. 

·        Particularly fond of suet are woodpeckers, Chickadees and Nuthatches.

Provide cover, shelter and roosting space for birds

·        If you’ve got a nesting box clean it out and prepare it for a winter stay or add another one to the yard.

·        Brush piles created with tree limbs, twigs and other debris provides birds with a place to escape the wind, snow and rain.

·        Leave the plant skeletons in your yard or garden as they provide the birds with natural food and a protective covering.

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