Avon's Wild Birds Unlimited celebrates 22 years in business this year.

Still Soaring – Wild Birds Unlimited Celebrates 22 Years

Doug and Michelle Moon of Avon’s Wild Birds Unlimited will celebrate 22 years in business this year, and continue to spark interest in the community for those who love wildlife – a dream come true for the couple.

“Michelle and I were both in the medical field,” Doug said. “We worked in the lab, testing in microbiology, hematology and other things, but I grew tired of it. I’ve always dreamed of owning my own business and we both have a love of nature. We thought it’d be cool to have both – our own business that helped nature.”

The couple had visited Wild Birds in Indianapolis, and as luck would have it, they learned Jim and Nancy Carpenter, founders of the franchise, were interested in a location on the west side.

The Moons were the perfect match.

“There were only two or three locations at the time, but today there are over 350 stores nationwide and in Canada,” Doug said.

The store has just what you’d think – bird food, feeders, nesting boxes and baths – and other items that might surprise you.

In addition to a friendly staff and a mutual love for nature, they also offer wind chimes, garden-related items, nature-related gifts, and even jewelry called Fahlo bracelets, allowing customers to follow the movement of an endangered species online.

Bird feeding or watching has become a popular hobby in recent years.

“We were one of the few businesses that thrived during the pandemic,” Doug said. “Everyone was at home and decided to make their backyard a haven. In fact, gardening is the most popular hobby in the United Staes, and bird feeding is second.”

As the weather improves and we’re headed outside, enjoying the sunshine, a beautiful bird might catch your eye, or you may simply be interested in learning more about the animals residing in your backyard.

The Moons said the habitat determines which types of birds you’ll encounter.

“If you live in a wooded area, you’re likely to see woodpeckers, chickadees and cardinals,” Doug said. “If you live in an open area with few trees, you may have goldfinches, bluebirds and swallows.”

Geography plays a part as well.

“When you get up to the dunes in Indiana or further north like the Great Lakes, it’s a whole different ball game than what you’d see here,” Michelle said. “There are even different types of species, like a jay in the Midwest is different than a jay in Texas or California, for example.”

The Moons said everything in nature is connected in one way or another, and natural pollinators can play a role in the health of your property.

“A healthy yard is chemical free and there are plenty of bugs available for the birds,” Michelle said. “Birds can be an indicator of how healthy your environment is. If you’re using a ton of pesticides or the property is void of natural shrubs and trees, you’re less likely to see a healthy population of different birds.”

So how do you get started?

Owners Doug and Michelle Moon.

The birds are already present, though we might not see them as often if we’re not paying attention. Doug said feeding them is for our own viewing pleasure. Otherwise, nature will take its course and the birds will find what they need.

Simply start with a basic bird feeder, hang it in the backyard and wait.

“Instead of loose bird seed, we have seed cylinders that the birds just go crazy over,” Doug said. “There are also stackables, which provide a variety of different food. You can hang that from a tree or a shepherd’s pole, and once the birds find it, that’s how you get started.”

From there, a particular bird piques your interest or you can begin experimenting with target feeding for a specific species.

“From year to year, we often see an influx of a particular bird,” Michelle said. “In 2020 people discovered the oriole and those particular feeders flew out the door,” Michelle said. “Orioles aren’t here all the time, so when people began noticing them, they could use specialized feeders or food that might draw them to your backyard for a longer period. It was a really interesting time for people as we learned about the oriole’s behavior.”

Once hooked on the relaxing hobby, many are interested in taking things to the next level. You can create a natural space for wildlife in your own backyard or even become certified through the National Wildlife Federation.

“You can get your backyard certified as a haven for birds and other wildlife,” Michelle said. “We’ve seen entire communities, schools and neighborhoods join together and get certified as a group.”

The entire Wild Birds franchise partners with the Arbor Day Foundation. They also encourage visitors to use their website to learn about the steps to get certified.

Requirements include basic food and water, along with coverings and areas for wildlife to raise their young.

Ultimately, the couple hope to inspire a love of nature in the community.

“I think, true to our mission, we really bring people and nature together by helping them enjoy their backyard bird feeding,” Doug said. “We consider our customers family and it’s just a joy.”

They also help solve problems for avid bird feeders. Perhaps squirrels are getting into the food, or a bird is striking a window at your residence.

“It’s a devastating thing that happens on a regular basis,” Doug said. “The birds see the reflection in the window and they think it’s open. They can kill themselves by striking the window, but there are solutions to that. You can put up decals and other things to prevent that reflection.”

When the customer returns and shares their positive results on an issue now resolved, the owners know they are meeting their goals of nurturing nature and helping others.

They’ve created a family of nature enthusiasts, both in the store and with guests who come in each day.

“We have an incredible, knowledgeable staff that have also developed relationships with our customers,” Michelle said. “Even if Doug isn’t there every day, we’re confident that our customers are being well cared for, and that’s wonderful.”

Up next for the Moons – plenty of possibilities.

Wild Birds Unlimited in Avon is located at 8100 E US Hwy 36, Avon, IN 46123.

“We’ve been talking about it for the past several years,” Doug said. “We’d like to open a second location in the future.”

With the right people in the store, the couple can continue to grow and will continue attending garden shows like the one at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds this spring.

They’ll also hold native plant sales, which help customers grow their habitats by offering plants you might not find at local nurseries.

To learn more, Wild Birds Unlimited has a Nature Centered podcast, available on all streaming platforms. They talk about critter solutions, treats for birds and other educational resources.

For more info on the store, visit avon.wbu.com.

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