Tourism

Wild Birds Unlimited: Feeding birds, educating people

The Wenatchee area offers habitats to some 300 bird species. From the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers to the foothills, many types of birds find homes in these varied environments.

Not only do wild birds inhabit the natural areas, but Wenatchee backyards, as well. Feeding the birds is a hobby and a delight to many of the city’s residents. The problem is, what to feed them as the variety of birds is so broad?

Feeding the birds and the customers’ knowledge

Wild Birds Unlimited (www.wenatchee.wbu.com)  at 212 Fifth St. (by Tastebuds and Garlini’s) is Wenatchee’s resource for both quality feed for birds and help and education for humans. Owner Patrick Bodell is at the franchise most of the time and always willing to share his knowledge with a customer or a curious visitor.

“People like to come in and talk,” Bodell said with a smile.

 He enjoys a chat anytime and will gladly share all that he knows about birdfeed and birds.

Success and Service

Since it’s opening in November 2017, the store has acquired 500 club members, online customers and many drop-in byers. They deliver for free within a 150-mile radius. Orders come in from as far away as Idaho and Oregon.

Help with any bird-related issue – squirrels included

 “We get a lot of people looking for help with squirrel issues,” he explained.

Squirrels have an affinity for birdfeed and will quickly stash away the seed which was intended for the winged visitors. Wild Birds Unlimited sells several types of squirrel-proof feeders and offers tips for kindly deterring the bushy-tailed critter’s attempts to hoard the birdseed.

Seed matters

When it comes to feeding birds, there is more to it than just setting out some seed: different seasons bring different nutritional requirements and types of birds to our backyard feeders. At Wild Birds Unlimited, you can find several varieties of birdseed specifically prepared for our region and the current season.

Other nutritional needs

Besides seed, the store also offers suet and nut blends to ensure sources of fat and protein for our feathered friends.

Not only do different species of birds have their own food preferences, but also specific locations where they like to feed. Goldfinches are happy to find Nyjer seed in the tall, skinny feeder while California quail look for food on the ground and Steller’s Jays love peanuts scattered on the ground. The staff at Wild Birds Unlimited can guide you to make the best choices according to the birds that come to your backyard. By being selective with the feed you can either invite the birds you like or put off the ones you don’t care for.

Education

“Education is the big thing,” Bodell pointed out. “We do a lot of problem-solving at the store.”

To help customers know what birds live in our environment, Bodell keeps a blackboard by the check-out counter where he lists local bird sightings that have been reported to him.

Other sources of birding information are listed on the Wild Birds Unlimited website, such as the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (www.cdlandtrust.org), North-Central Washington Audubon Society (www.ncwaudubon.org), and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (www.birds.cornell.edu).

Off-store activities

Beyond the supplies and education at the store, Wild Birds Unlimited also participates in guided bird walks and other educational events in Wenatchee. The store contributes to community enrichment: each year they sponsor a show at the Numerica Performing Arts Center (www.numericapac.org). This year it was the “Glenn Miller Band” show in September.

On November 12 Wild Birds Unlimited is sponsoring the film presentation of “Bird of Prey”, 7-8:30 pm at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center (www.wenatcheevalleymuseum.org).

Selling products, not birds

Bodell said that people sometimes walk into the store looking to buy a bird, but Wild Birds Unlimited does not sell live birds. It sells products and offers advice on how to keep them alive.

Gifts for people, too

While visiting the store, you are likely to be tempted to browse through the shelves stocked with gift ideas – either for a bird-loving friend or yourself. Maybe a hat with an embroidered hummingbird, a bird-related book, or a coffee mug with a picture of a favorite species?

Their hours of operation are: Mo-Fri 10-6, Sat 10-5, Sun 11-4.

Jaana Hatton