Wild Bird Center: Business Spotlight

By Kathryn Acree

Wild Bird Centers Inverness

Wild Bird Center’s Mary Swanson with Sam, her schnoodle, better known as the store’s official greeter and mascot. Photo by Kathryn Acree.

Who doesn’t love the idea of lovely birds to make an even lovelier backyard? Why does it seem that all your efforts to be kind to your fine, feathered friends results in a lot of full-tummied squirrels instead?

That’s when Wild Bird Centers in Inverness can step in and make a difference. They have the products you need to feed those beautiful birds and not those pesky squirrels.

“There are plenty of ways to keep squirrels off your bird feeders,” said Wild Bird Center owner Mary Swanson. “There have been many advances in the lines of bird feeders, hardware and seed.”

One hot item her store carries is Cole’s Hot Meats, a birdseed made to appeal to birds but not squirrels. The “meat” of the seed—the inside, shelled part birds desire—is treated with a hot pepper coating. Squirrels will think twice with a mouthful of that!

Another great item customers ask Swanson about is the ant trap. This little $6 device keeps ants out of your hummingbird feeder. Hummingbird enthusiasts can enjoy these birds without all the labor involved in continually cleaning out a feeder full of sugar water and ants.

Swanson and her husband, Eric, both loved nature and the relaxation of watching birds. They’ve been in business at their 280 Station location since August 1999. Her customers have also become her friends. “We have such a wonderful group of bird enthusiasts that shop here regularly,” said Swanson. “If I don’t know the answer to a birding question, I know plenty of bird lovers now to go to for answers!”

The shop boasts more than just birdseed and bird feeders. It has home décor, yard art, rain gages and many other eclectic items.

Swanson insists that their birdseed is top-of-the-line compared to many big box stores. “The biggest difference is our seed is not only fresh and shipped directly from the manufacturer, but it is also all edible seed,” Swanson said. “Our mixes are not full of fillers that the birds don’t eat. So that 20 lb. bag of seed that you thought was a bargain really isn’t because the birds kick most of it out of your feeder with their beaks trying to get to the few seeds they want to eat. “

Swanson shared a few birding myths with us:

I don’t need to feed the birds in the spring and summer because there are a lot of bugs for them to eat.
False.  In the spring and summer birds are building nests and having babies, so they are looking at your bird feeder like a drive through.  They feed those babies every 15 minutes or so during daylight hours.  If you have four to five babies in a nest, that is a lot of work for mom and dad!  Most birds nest two to three times a season.  Fall is when birds don’t use our feeders as much due to the abundance of natural food.  Things have died and gone to seed, insects are all around, there are berries on trees and shrubs etc.

If I leave my hummingbird feeder up, it will keep them from migrating south for the winter.
Not true.  They have a hormone that is triggered, but the amount of sunlight they get during the day tells them when it is time to go south.  So you are doing no harm.  Swanson recommends that you keep your feeder up until Thanksgiving in case you have a hummer that stays over winters with you. This typically would be a hummer from the west coast of the US not the ruby-throated hummer we get here in the south.

Swanson invites readers to check out the Wild Bird Center if you’ve never stopped in before. It’s a great time to get ahead on your Mother’s Day shopping, and they have something to please every mom or grandmother.

Wild Bird Center
416 Cahaba Park Circle
280 Station Shopping Center
Mon- Fri: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sat: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday: closed


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