From the desk of Lauren Palmer
“My father was a botanist and biologist. My mother was a 4th grade teacher. So I guess my love of nature and educating McKinney residents makes me the perfect combination of them both,” Cheryl “Birdie” Miller confessed to me as we sat outside her nature shop Wild Birds Unlimited. As we spoke about her shop’s mission and personal love of wildlife, I was surprised to watch nature literally flock to her. In the strip shopping center at Hardin Boulevard and Eldorado Parkway (where WBU is located), a small group of Monarch butterflies hovered nearby. A little lost puppy wandered over, somehow knowing that Birdie would help him find his owner…and she paused our meeting to do just that. Does nature instinctively know when a kindred spirit is near? Were those butterflies aware of her sitting on the Boards of both the Heard Museum and Crepe Myrtle Trail, or her seat on the Committee of the McKinney Monarch Initiative? Or had they heard of her shop’s mission to Bring people and nature together, and wanted to play their role? I believe, the answer is Yes to all three.
Although she originally moved to McKinney in 1993, life took her to Dallas for a few years while her children attended a private high school. She eagerly returned in 2014, opening Wild Birds Unlimited just three years later: “McKinney has always been my happy place.” Her shop is the epitome of a family-operated business, but with the backing of a 30-year-old franchise.
Wild Birds Unlimited differentiates itself from big box chain stores by providing unique and well-made products in addition to retaining expert staff. Birdie received 80 hours of specialized training at the WBU home office and graduated from Wild Birds Unlimited University. The majority of her staff (which she affectionately refers to as ”The Bird Crew”) has been with her since the shop’s opening in April 2017. They are all certified as Backyard Bird Feeding Specialists, a certification requiring training with Birdie herself, videos, books, and area-specific testing. They also continue their education with new information, product knowledge, and nature research throughout the year. Wild Birds Unlimited branded products undergo extensive testing prior to being available for purchase and they have a lifetime guarantee. There are even 2 naturalists on staff at the home office to ensure each and every product is beneficial and safe to the natural habitats they will occupy.
Whether an amateur or pro bird feeder, there is something for everyone at Wild Birds Unlimited. When I asked Birdie the best way for an amateur like myself to bring nature into their life, she told me to cultivate a backyard sanctuary. “First bring in a water source, then a food source, and then a natural habitat to welcome your local birds.” Seed Cylinders are an excellent food source for birds and are easy to use – making them ideal for a person who doesn’t have a lot of time to mess with refilling bird feeders. Seed Cylinders are seed “bricks” formed into various shapes and held together by an all-natural protein gelatin. Wouldn’t this make a wonderful Christmas gift or stocking stuffer, friends? Plus, when customers purchase three of the stackable Seed Cylinders, they will receive the feeder (which holds the cylinder) for FREE!
“For the pro bird feeder, an Advanced Pole System (APS) is definitely the way to go,” Birdie explained. The APS can hold up to 10 feeders, is weather resistant, and can even hold a water station for birds. Wild Birds Unlimited also carries various bird houses, bird study books, species-dependent seeds (which are delivered fresh every single week), and educational products that appeal to children. In fact, this coming Saturday at 4:00 p.m., Birdie will have live bats in the shop to celebrate Halloween in true WBU fashion. (NOTE: The bats will be in attendance as long as they aren’t in cranky moods.) Call today to reserve your spot and sign up for Birdie’s newsletter to stay in-the-know about other WBU events. As we continued to tour her shop, it felt very much like the nature sanctuary it claims to be, with plants, working bird baths, and charming garden benches everywhere we turned.
Friends, make Wild Birds Unlimited a destination spot this week. Support our local small businesses and support our local natural habitats by allowing Birdie to educate you about your own backyard. And stay tuned for more from Wild Birds Unlimited right here on The Art of Living Beautifully. There is so much more to learn about our sweet, local feathered friends.
Thank you Wild Birds Unlimited for sponsoring this post.
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