In case you missed it, the days are getting colder.
And while we can throw on another sweater and brew a cup of hot tea, our feathered friends hanging out in the backyard cannot.
In fact, with winter coming, they need us more than ever.
"In the summer, birds find 75 percent of their feed in nature but in the winter months, 75 percent of their food comes from bird feeders," said Karl Stuecher, owner of .
It started with a gift
Stuecher and his wife, Linda, bought Wild Birds Unlimited in April of 2008. Linda had been employed by the previous owners but the couple were already bird enthusiasts.
"Twenty years ago I got a bird feeder from my kids for Father's Day," Stuecher explained. "That's where I started."
The store has everything a bird-feed hobbyist could want and more. From squirrel-proof bird feeders to bird baths, birds books for children and adults, unique yard decor and, of course, every kind of feed.
"Our No. 1 seller for feed is our No-Mess blend. The process takes off the hulls so there is no mess left on the ground," Stuecher said. "And since feed is sold by weight, you're not paying for shell waste."
Hold three pennies in your hand
The chickadee, a bird that stays with us year-round, weighs as much as three pennies. During the cold winter it can lose 10 percent of its body weight overnight.
"What's important for our little feathered friends is a high-protein, high-fat feed for the winter months," Stuecher said. (That same little chickadee eats 150 sunflower seeds a day!)
For winter-feeding in Michigan, Stuecher recommends three types of feed:
- General seed with a base of black oil sunflower, peanut pieces and millet.
- Suet feeders for insect-eating birds, like woodpeckers.
- Thistle feeders for goldfinches, another Michigan favorite that stays year-round.
"With these three you'll see all the birds this area and season offer," Stuecher said.
Stuecher recommends a feed of peanuts to attract specialty birds like the rose-breasted nut hatch, one of Michigan's many winter visitors that come to us from the north. Peanuts are also loved by Stuecher's favorite bird, the tufted titmouse, who dwells in Michigan year-round.
Food type isn't the only way to attract a variety of birds.
"Birds do have preferences about the level they feed at — some, like the dark-eyed junco and mourning dove, are ground feeders. While finches are community feeders, they'll fill up every perch you have," Stuecher said.
To help their loyal customers and their feathered friends, Wild Birds Unlimited offers a Daily Savings Club.
The annual membership is $25 and comes with a gift. Benefits to the club include 15 percent off regular-priced bird food and $10 in "bird bucks" every time $200 is spent.
Members also get an additional 5 percent off sale prices.
"It's just our way of saying thank-you for your regular business," Stuecher said.
Christmas is coming
Yes, the jack o' lanterns are still sitting on your front porch, but it's not too soon to start thinking about Christmas.
Wild Birds Unlimited is filled with unique gifts, with more coming for the holiday season.
"Linda does all the gift-item buying and her guiding principal is to offer things you can't find in other stores," Stuecher said.
Some of the most popular items include:
- Squirrel-proof bird feeder.
- Wind chimes.
- The Ecotough line of bird-feeders, made from recycled milk jugs (it comes with a limited lifetime guarantee).
- Michigan puzzles.
- Bird night lights.
- Michigan-shaped garden stepping stones, both lower and upper peninsula.
- A kid section with books selected by Linda to teach the next generation to love and respect nature.
"Of course if you're a hobbyist the whole store becomes a gift shop!" Stuecher said.
Wild Birds Unlimited is located at 3032 Walton Blvd, in the Plaza. It's entrance faces Adams Road. The shop is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 248-375-5202 with questions.