Subj: media request
Dear Mom and Pop owners of The Wild Bird Store,
I write a monthly outdoor column [OUTDOOR OBSERVATIONS] in Inside Tucson Business and try to tie outdoor activities into business stories.
One of my upcoming columns deals with a one-of-a-kind business in Arizona, a Photography Ranch in Amado, where all kinds of birds show up to feed, drink --- and be photographed by birders with cameras. I'd like to tie your business into this story by asking for a quote on the following: * You've been feeding backyard birds for three decades, turning your hobby into a business in 1992. How would you describe the growing popularity of Tucsonans interest in birds over the last 15 years? * This is one of those non-consumptive enjoyments of wildlife, part of this whole growing trend toward Wildlife Watching. Is there any difference in your opinion, between watching birds in the wild versus birds in your backyard? * You draw birds in to watch them by feeding them and most recently have developed your Nuts 'n' Bugs insect meal. Does this product do the trick?
Thank you. Lee Allen, for OUTDOOR OBSERVATIONS
Thanks for your letter of inquiry and your intelligent questions.
I prefer talking to emailing, but will answer your questions here, but if you have further questions or want more detail please call me anytime. I know customers of mine who were instrumental in starting the photography ranch in Amado. Fifteen years ago and earlier, many birders were hesitant to admit they watch birds for pleasure and personal stimulation and education. We were often considered bird nerds. However things have substantially changed in the last 15 to 20 years.
Today, birding is second in popularity only to gardening as far as American pastimes and hobbies are concerned. It is now estimated that about one in four Americans spends some time and money watching birds on some regular basis. I know our business has had a very positive and beneficial effect both on the birders and birds that are in the greater Tucson area.
For example, Lesser Goldfinches (particularly the Green-backed subspecies) were not commonly found throughout the Tucson metro area. You had to visit their preferred habitat to find them and 15 to 20 years ago, as not that many folks were putting out thistle feeders to attract them. However, today they are found throughout the greater area in almost all neighborhoods and habitats due to the fact that many, many more people are attracting them with improved backyard habitat and a significant increase in the number of thistle and species-specific feeders now on the market that are designed to attract goldfinches. Three species are permanent year-round residents and two species are true snowbirds, arriving in the fall and departing in the spring. And, all five species of goldfinches can now be found in Tucson backyards quite easily, without having to go hiking into the mountain canyons.
Birders are usually divided into backyard birders or in the field birders, but with each passing year, more backyard birders are also venturing into the field as well. Backyard birding is a great way to get introduced and engaged with the hobby, but it has its limitations. Particularly the fact that the habitat is not as great in a backyard as it is over a larger range of territory. Another is that birds of the backyard tend to be primarily the more common resident or migrant species. Field birders usually keep lists and detailed journal notes regarding the birds they observe and their lists are usually much longer and more detailed than backyard lists as the birders can visit many types of habitat and elevation and therefore experience many non-backyard birds in their more natural settings and nesting areas. In the field birders get to travel to beautiful destinations and hike around in wild country surrounded by nature and far from the urban setting. This is the best way to see rare and exotic species that most will never see in their backyards. Many of our customers begin simply as backyard birders, but among their ranks, many of them become field birders with a relatively short time.
Our high-energy, high-protein insect meal, Nuts 'n' Bugs, has been attracting non-seedeating birds in the Tucson area for more than 15 years. We have a list, posted in the store, of over 120 primarily insect eating birds that are regular visitors to Tucson birdfeeders. This meal is the only insect meal on the national market and is available exclusively at our store or on our website (wildbirdsonline.com). The basic rule of thumb when it comes to attracting a wider variety of species to your feeders is to provide a wide variety of foods. Most birds specialize in eating certain foods only while others are more adaptable and will eat a variety of foods.
But, basically, seedeaters eat seeds (and even they have their preferences for what types of seeds they prefer), Fruit eaters prefer fruit, insect eaters prefer insects, nut eaters prefer nuts, nectar eaters prefer nectar, etc. So by having a variety of feeders and foods, one can draw the widest variety of birds in return. I can talk birds for hours on end and will be happy to answer any other questions you may have. I hope I answered your questions well enough for your article. Please feel free to contact me for more info. Best wishes and happy birding!
Jon Friedman, Owner, The Wild Bird Store
Jon: Thank you for such a detailed response...it's apparent you love birds/birding as much as I love nature and all outdoors. My OUTDOOR OBSERVATIONS column prints monthly and the July column on wildlife watching (titled: Outdoor Ogling) will print Friday, July 18th [retrieve the electronic version at AZBiz.com]. Thanks for your help. Hope the positive story helps in the cause and your business. Lee Allen,