Weekly Feature

2018-10-10 / Business

Wild Birds Unlimited celebrates one year in business

by EMILY LOSITO Reporter

Angel Swann, left, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited at 8584 Transit Road, shows Casey Reeves a bird house at the store. 
Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Angel Swann, left, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited at 8584 Transit Road, shows Casey Reeves a bird house at the store. Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Angel Swann grew up in New York City and was never one to be all that involved with nature. One day a robin began making its nest outside her kitchen window.

“My first reaction was, ‘Oh no, this isn’t good,’” Swann said. “Then, I was just mesmerized. I was able to watch the process of them hatch and fledge, and I fell in love with it all. And I got more interested, and several years later it’s led me down this path. ... It’s literally changed my life.”

Swann opened Wild Birds Unlimited one year ago. She said she sees the most difference in her customers.

“The relationships that I have built with customers, seeing them flourish and getting birds they never had before in their backyard has been really nice,” she said. “Educating people and watching them get excited and tell their friends and family, it becomes a whole family activity that they never thought they could enjoy.”

One employee, Lauren Tingco, said customers enter with various levels of experience.

“Some customers have never experienced feeding the birds compared to people who have been feeding birds a lot longer than I have,” Tingco said. “I was interested in the bird feeding store because it’s all about conservation and introducing people to the outdoors.”

All of Wild Birds Unlimited employees have lots of knowledge and experience, according to Swann.

Tingco has a master’s degree in environmental science and teaches online classes for Bryant & Stratton College.

“Customers have taught me things, too,” she said. “I also like to share gardening experiences and tips with customers. Some customers have shared good pollinator seeds with me, and I put them in my own backyard.”

Birdwatching is the second-fastest growing hobby in the country, according to Swann. She added that it’s not a seasonal hobby; it’s something people can enjoy year round.

“After our migratory visitors leave us, we have tons of resident birds that need us, especially in the winter season — cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers that are all here — who need us to get through that strained period,” she said.

Tingco said her favorite part of feeding birds in her own yard is seeing how many migratory birds visit.

“I like being able to share own backyard experiences with customers,” she said. “I say what I do, what feed I use and it’s always interesting to see what customers bring, like their pictures.”

Wild Birds Unlimited is a very unique store, Swann said.

“In the Amherst area, I believe we’re the only specialty bird shop,” she said. “You may see bird feeders and bird food in a grocery store, but we’re the only ones who dedicate the whole store to our backyard birds.”

The store also has a hot pepper line, which is a squirrel deterrent, according to Swann.

An array of hot pepper products will be available in November.

“[Hot pepper products] are already infused in the bird food. It’s going to be hotter than we’ve ever offered before,” she said. “In hot sauce, there’s different grades of heat.”

Swann said the hot pepper doesn’t harm birds, however, because birds lack a protein which causes a reaction in other mammals such as squirrels and deer.

Wild Birds Unlimited hosts public programs almost every month to educate people about bird feeding, butterflies and holiday seasons.

Swann said there will be a program Oct. 27 about how to prepare for feeding birds in winter.

“My general advice is if you’re going to feed the birds, always keep squirrels in mind,” Swann said. “We have solutions to help you enjoy the hobby.”

The store is located at 8584 Transit Road near Klein Road and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. most days.

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