Local Business Profile
By Lisa Wells
OC Voice Staff Writer
Perched at the corner of Adams Avenue and Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach near Mother’s Market is a shop that’s for the birds and anyone else who wants to add some nature to their backyard environment.
A step into this quaint store almost feels like a step into the outdoors. The sound of tricking water flows from the solar-powered water fountains and the walls are lined with an unbelievable variety of bird feeders.
Visiting the Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop also seems more like an educational field trip than a shopping binge. For four years the shop’s knowledgeable staff has been teaching folks how to bring wild birds into their backyards. Clients learn ways to bring specific types of birds to stay and can even find out how to discourage birds they’d rather not have as yard guests.
Jan Smith, who manages the store and is part-owner with her husband, Ray and friend Linda Papenfus, says, “The biggest reason people come here is that we’re very knowledgeable about birds; what they eat, what need to nest, what they need as far as water features.”
Smith’s motivation obviously goes beyond a desire to make a living. Smith is a lifetime nature lover who remembers long childhood days of exploring a local creek, which led her to a career teaching science to kindergarten through 8th grade students for 25 years. “I love teaching kids about biodiversity and how everything goes together and how you have to be able to take care of your world around you,” she explains.
Attracting birds you like is just a matter of having the right information, Smith points out. Songbirds, for instance, prefer sunflower chips. The right food with the right presentation will bring the chosen birds to your home.
The store provides excellent information about bird nesting habits and how to use them to the bird-watcher’s advantage. Bluebirds, for example, are almost done with their nesting season, so now is not the time to get nesting boxes for bluebirds.
But nesting is only one way of bringing birds into yards and the Nature Shop has all kinds of tricks for attracting birds. “People love to see the bright yellow goldfinch which are on the southern California coast all year, we attract them with fresh nyjer seed and a feeder that has yellow-they’re attracted to yellow. The biggest thing is fresh, filler-free seed and great feeders,” Smith says.
Customers come back repeatedly to learn and to shop and Smith enjoys their enthusiasm. “They bring me pictures of the birds bathing in their new bird bath or their solar fountain, all kinds of things like that.”
The nature shop is also an excellent resource for solving bird feeding issues caused by weeds or squirrels, Smith notes. “We are a bird feeding solution store. We have solutions for squirrels and for people at the beach.”
When the marine layer comes in and moistens the seed, birds are less likely to visit. As a solution, however, the Nature Shop sells feeder-friendly, soy-based crystals that are safe for birds to eat and which absorb moisture and solve the problem of soggy seed.
People just want to bring a little bit of nature into their hectic lives, says Smith sympathetically. Anyone can do it, she adds, even her. “I don’t even have a backyard at my house, but I have pole feeding systems and feeders and I get all sorts of birds in my yard with water and food. It’s just a little bit of nature that I have and it helps me de-stress. I love seeing birds, hearing them sing in the morning. I’ve got bird feeders in the courtyard and I’ve got humming bird feeders set up so when I go by a window I see birds and it makes me happy.”
Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop
19680 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648