In January, Moana Nursery purchased the Reno franchise for the store Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) and incorporated its products into its three area locations. WBU has 300 stores in North America, according to its website www.wbu.com, and sells items designed to help customers “turn your yard into a bird feeding habitat that not only brings song, color and life to your home, but also benefits wild birds and the environment.”
In northern Nevada, that means attracting a variety of winged beauties, according to Michelle Gilmore, assistant manager of the Moana Nursery on Pyramid Way in Spanish Springs. House and American finches, scrubjays, chickadees, flickers and woodpeckers are just a sampling of the types of birds that residents can bring to their yards, she said. Doing so appears to be easy: Gilmore said a simple setup can attract a charm of finches within a day.
On a tour of the store, Gilmore showed a variety of feeders and houses with various size openings for their beaks and doors for them to go inside. They even sell houses for bats, which is meant for customers who want the added benefit for their gardens: Bat droppings, or guano, is excellent for composting, Gilmore said.
“It smells like no other but people want it,” she said.
Carol York, who manages the bird section at the Moana Nursery location at 1100 Moana Lane in Reno, said local bats and birds rarely come into contact since bats are nocturnal and birds are diurnal. Both animals are excellent at eating insects that are hazardous to plant life, she said.
Food and water are the main ingredients to attracting the local avian life. Gilmore said different types of food will bring different birds. Finches, for example, exclusively eat niger seed while medium to large birds will eat various suet concoctions mixed with mealworms, fruit and seeds. Gilmore explained there are also 100 percent consumable seed mixtures and mixtures with shells that will leave a mess when the birds remove them. Customers can choose to spend around $30 with no clean-up or save around $10 and pick up after their visitors.
In the winter, Gilmore continued, liquid water might attract birds even better than food. There are a couple of options to keep outdoor pools from freezing: a heated bowl or a battery-powered water stirrer. The heated bowls simply plug in and provide still water, whereas the stirrer gives the added attraction of moving water, which also prevents freezing. The stirrer is a fist-sized casing that stands in a shallow bird bath on little metal legs that kick the water around and runs on a couple of D batteries.
For first-timers, Gilmore said she recommends a setup to attract small birds. WBU has developed its own Advanced Pole System, which is a do-it-yourself, no-tools-required kit that allows people to construct their own pole with a variety of accessories for hanging birdhouses or feeders in various configurations. The starter kit costs $81 and accessories range from $8 to $30 and can be assembled in countless ways.
Gilmore said she has learned a lot about birds since WBU was incorporated into the nursery. Many more people love birds than she realized, but those same people hate pigeons, she said.
“You just kind of take birds for granted until you have to do this day in and day out,” she said, adding that many customers combine birds and landscaping by requesting only bird-friendly plants and trees.
As for inviting birds into a yard inhabited by dogs or cats, veterinarian Dawn Hess with Community Animal Hospital in Reno said notions of bird-borne diseases affecting other pets are wives' tales. Any disease carried by birds would be transmitted indirectly, such as if a mosquito bit the bird and then bit another animal. The only risk might be to domesticated birds, which would have no immunity to viruses or bacteria carried by the wild birds, she said.
For more information about WBU, visit www.wbu.com.