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Eye On | Wild Birds Unlimited — Worth flocking to: Bird enthusiasts have a place to fill their needs

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Mauricia Vandegrift, at left, gets help from Jill Nolan while shopping for bird food at Wild Birds Unlimited. The store has food and shelter options for any kind of bird and is located at 212 Fifth St. in Wenatchee.

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There are hundreds of bird species in North Central Washington and Wild Birds Unlimited wants to make sure you have the tools to see them all.

Wild Birds Unlimited franchise owner Patrick Bodell is no stranger to business. After moving from Rochester, N.Y., to Wenatchee four years ago, Bodell continues to dabble in business ventures. His new place, in the strip mall adjacent to Jimmy John’s on the corner of Fifth and Mission streets in Wenatchee, attracts birders of all experience levels.

Assembling a backyard birding environment is much like successfully completing a puzzle. In order to get a variety of species in a backyard, the enthusiast needs to know which birds like which feeds, specific patterns of behavior, relationship problems between species, and food-to-water ratios, to name a few.

Setting up a miniature bird ecosystem is quite possible if one knows how to go about it. For example; placement of a foundational feeder and surrounding it with tray feeders, suet feeders, fruits, and specialty snacks will bring more birds to the yard.

Not unlike humans, birds need variety in their diets. Having carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the same yard give the birder a better chance of having different species come to, and stay, in the area you desire. Bodell said the more someone learns about strategy, the better the experience will be.

It’s a hobby, just like golf, or hunting, fishing,” Bodell said. “The more you get into it and start thinking about what you’re doing, but more importantly how you’re doing it, the more fun you will have. Being more strategic about it… that’s when you are going to start seeing over a hundred species in your backyard.”

Bodell said the thing he likes most about running Wild Birds Unlimited is the people who walk through his door.

If you get excited about birding, or excited about learning how to best make sure you are optimizing your viewing time, you need to come in here,” Bodell said. “We have fun in here. It’s a very relaxed environment. We try to educate people when they come in so they can make decisions on their own. It’s very low stress; everybody seems to be in a good mood when they stop by.

Bodell said he has been impressed with the Wenatchee’s community engagement — not just from birding enthusiasts — but the whole area since arriving in the valley. In thanks, Bodell and Wild Birds Unlimited will offer multiple events starting this summer for young and old enthusiasts alike. His goal is to school people on birding, as well as tell others what Wild Birds Unlimited can offer.

We’re going to start up a Young Birder’s Club this summer in the hopes that we can teach young people about birds, species, and birding,” Bodell said. “We hope to do some bird walks and explain what we see. Then we will also be sponsoring the local Super Summer Adventures with the Wenatchee Valley Museum.”

Wild Birds Unlimited’s hottest selling product is the wave of the future: the No-Mess Blend. In comparison to most bird feed on the market, No-Mess Blend is 100 percent edible and attracts all birds. This feed has its shells removed so the seeds’ nutrients make up 100 percent of the bag.

Longtime customer Diana Rigelman of Wenatchee won’t go any other way.

Their no-mess seed lives up to the hype, that’s for sure,” Rigelman said. “The birds love it. They want to have the least mess too, apparently! It is definitely as billed. The wildlife finds it and all the birds are just delighted when they get into it.”

Initially, Rigelman went into Wild Birds Unlimited solely for feeders, but a relationship with Bodell and his staff formed. Rigelman is now a weekly visitor and said the staff and community she interacts with while in the store make her day.

You know, it’s just a unique store. I’ve only been in the Wenatchee Valley for about a year now, but I have found no place like Wild Birds Unlimited,” Rigelman said. “It’s a very clean store, it’s very tidy. They are so knowledgeable and helpful with anything I want to know. They really know their stuff. I am a senior citizen. Customer service goes a long way for me. They help me carry out my feed and products to my car. It may be a little thing, but when it is winter and slippery outside, it is nice to have someone help me to the other side of the parking lot.”

Bodell said Wild Birds Unlimited focuses on products without filler and said the quality of product the franchise offers is what has people coming back for more.

If you think about it, you can buy a $20 bag of feed with 70 percent filler that the birds won’t eat and have to pick it up after a while to save your grass, or you can buy a $40 bad of no-mess, and see it go longer with no adverse effects on your property,” Bodell said.

On top of the no-mess feed, products such as bark butter and natural bug, nut, and seed cylinders fly off the shelves. Because of its natural properties, Bodell said the product lasts longer and yields better results.

Bodell practices what he preaches. A birding enthusiast himself, he hasn’t quite reached the level of 100 species in his backyard, but he said he’s well on his way. Although it’s a small sample size, it appears as though people around the neighborhood are excited about what Bodell’s new business brings to the table.

They are just filled with so much joy with enthusiasm,” Rigelman said. “They’re a lovely crew. I think they’re a real blessing to the community; it’s a delight to find someone so passionate, kind and smart right here in town. They will teach you what you’re doing right and wrong, how to make a great environment and they will do it with a smile on their faces.”