The bird whisperers

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The bird whisperers

Most folks retire as their careers wind down. Not so, for these two bird enthusiasts, or “birders” as they often refer to themselves.

Story: Bridget Broihahn

Photos: Bridget Broihahn

Most folks retire as their careers wind down. Not so, for these two bird enthusiasts, or “birders” as they often refer to themselves. A couple of years ago, Nancy and Jim Householder gave themselves a wonderful Christmas present. “We bought Wild Birds and More,” Nancy Householder said.  The Householders are wild life enthusiasts. They have a small farm and have always enjoyed nature.

Nancy Smith, a store associate and recent master naturalist graduate, at the time posted on Facebook that the store needed a strong and dependable worker immediately to unload bird seed. The Householders answered that post, and as time moved forward-as it always does-they decided to buy the business. “We are birders, after all,” Nancy Householder said.

The store is now located at 2141 S. Neil St. in Champaign. They carry everything the wild bird watcher needs to enjoy their hobby: wild bird seed, bird houses and feeders, and bird baths. “By the way, did you know that bird watching is the number one hobby in America,” asked Nancy Householder. In fact, she said, bird watching is a great way to reduce stress and bring enjoyment into one’s life. “It’s our favorite hobby and we want to spread that joy to others by helping the ecosphere: the bees, butterflies, birds and, yes, the squirrels,” she said.

In fact, even though a third of people hate them, another on-third loves them, and the other third could go either way, they have squirrel baffles to keep squirrels and raccoons away from bird feeders. Plus, they have squirrel feeders for those that like to watch the antics of the furry little creatures.

Natalie Householder, assistant manager, said that this is not just a hobby for adults. “We had a 4-H group come in with an age range from 6 to 15 years. We talked about seed, made bird feeders with bagels, peanut butter and seed. Then, we played a game: Bird Jeopardy,” she said.

It was a pretty busy time at the store, too, as they had just received 2,400 pounds of wild bird seed a little earlier in the season. Niko Householder unloaded most of it. “We deliver it to you, too, if you cannot make it out to the store” he said. Wild Birds and More specializes in bird seed. They know what kind of seed attracts birds, whether it be the black oil sunflower, sunflower hearts and safflower seeds that attract cardinals, or the suet cakes, peanuts and a special woodpecker blend that attracts woodpeckers, blue jays and nuthatches.

“We get fresh seed every 10 to 14 days. Most of the seed in the big box store is cheap, and songbirds won’t eat it,” Nancy Smith said. Nancy Householder agreed. “We knew we could do better. Half of that cheap seed will go to waste on the ground,” Nancy Householder said. They created the “Less Mess House Blend” seed, a unique, non-GMO blend that was created so that bird watchers are feeding their birds the highest possible nutrition without paying for unnecessary fillers. “DesMoines Feed Company makes it only for us. It’s our signature blend,” Natalie Householder said. It attracts most every wild bird out there, except for that big bully, the black bird, which loves corn. There is no corn in it. It comes in 20 or 40 pound bags.

They are also able to help “birders” select the right bird feeder that holds the right seed that will attract the desired birds to one’s yard. “We are here to aid you in this selection process,” Jim Householder said.  Plus, he said that bird houses can attract and deter certain birds. “If you want to make an artistic impression in your garden, we have beautifully crafted birdhouses,” he said.

Wild Birds and More also carries gift items and artwork. The artwork is created by Lynn Hawkinson Smith. “She has wonderful photography-she lives by the Sangamon River-and she makes lovely drawings, all nature inspired, too” Natalie Householder said.  Natalie has photography on display and for sale, as well.

“Come on in and see what we have. You will have fun, reduce stress and enjoy nature,” Nancy Householder said. Nancy Smith agreed. “Yes, we’re bird nerds!”

For more information on Wild Birds and More, call them at 217-352-1770, go their website: wildbirdschampaign.com or on Facebook at Wild Birds and More.