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Wild Birds Unlimited Soaring To New Heights With Its Ten-Year Anniversary



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BROOKFIELD - Wild Birds Unlimited at 317 Federal Road has been helping people connect with birds and nature for nearly a decade, and this June, owner Margaret Robbins will be celebrating her store's ten-year anniversary.

She sat down with The Newtown Bee to tell her journey from turning an outdoor hobby into a thriving nature business.

A Lifetime Love Of Birds

Throughout Ms Robbins entire life she has always been fascinated by birds.

"My father was a big outdoors person, and we fed the birds at home," Ms Robbins said. "I just loved watching the birds."

She grew up spending her time taking care of wild birds, but took her pastime further in high school when she developed a passion for "birding," which she describes as the act of going out and looking for certain birds and keeping a life list.

Her excitement for birds and nature grew from just a hobby to a profession when she left her job at a doctor's office in the late 90s and decided to pursue a career in the field she loved.

She worked for the National Audubon Society for seven and a half years and enjoyed getting to do work that involved birds and conservation. During that time she ran the store at Audubon Greenwich, gaining valuable experience on the different products available to create bird-friendly environments.

After Ms Robbins and her husband decided to retire from work, she says, she quickly realized retirement was quite boring. It was her son, Phillip, who convinced her to look into opening up a bird store.

When she heard about the opportunity to own a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise, she knew it was the right fit. And she even hired Philip to become manager at the Wild Bird Unlimited store she opened soon after in Brookfield.

"The people were great, the terms were great, and most importantly the products were fantastic," Ms Robbins explained. "The company cares about the birds, it's not about making money, it's about birds and connecting people with nature. That's what made us decide to do the franchise."

Sky's The Limit

Today, there are nearly 300 Wild Birds Unlimited stores across the country and even after ten years of owning her business Ms Robbins says that she is one of the newer stores.

"Some [Wild Birds Unlimited] stores have been around for 30 years," Ms Robbins said.

She attributes the success of the stores to the fact that nature watching and bird feeding is the second fastest growing outdoor hobby, just behind gardening.

"It's relaxing, it's calming, it's reaffirming. The same things happen at the same time of year and it kind of restores your faith in everything," said Ms Robbins. "You know that mid-April to the beginning of May the hummingbirds are going to come back. The gold finches are going to change color and signal that spring is coming."

With so many unknowns in the world, there is a comfort in knowing the birds remain steadfast in their rituals.

Keeping that in mind, Ms Robbins understands that birdwatching and feeding can make a positive impact in a person's life.

She reaches out to different groups to share her knowledge and experiences to help spread the joy of connecting with nature.

"I do a ton of programs for youth groups, garden clubs, senior organizations, and library programs. I like to give back; it's important," Ms Robbins said. "People have been good to us by shopping here, and I like to give back to the community."

Quality Products

Whether someone is an expert at caring for birds or is just starting out, Wild Birds Unlimited supplies a variety of products to transform any yard into a refuge for birds.

"We have quality at a great price, because if you are doing something you want to do it well and without hassle," said Ms Robbins.

Many bird feeders need to be replaced every couple of years, but Wild Birds Unlimited has easy-to-clean feeders that come with lifetime warranties for manufacturer defects. Repairs can even be done right at the store for convenience.

Up to five feeders can be held up by one pole system to create a whole feeding station for birds.

"Our pole system is by far is the best on the market," Ms Robbins said. "It's simple, easy to squirrel proof, and they are made well and strong."

Ultimately, what goes inside the feeders is one of the most crucial parts to bird feeding.

The seed that Ms Robbins sells at her store is free from any fillers such as corn, milo, yellow millet, barley, and wheat. Those contents of common bird foods wind up on the ground when the birds push past it to eat other seeds.

Ms Robbins said, "Our birds don't eat that, so why would you buy seeds with all that junk in it that is just going to grow in your yard and attract rodents?"

Instead, she advocates for the clean seed, free of dirt and twigs, that Wild Birds Unlimited supplies. The bird seed is delivered fresh every week.

"It's all about the birds. I make sure when people come in here that they are purchasing products that will work for them, and if it doesn't, then we'll make sure we find out what will work for them," Ms Robbins assured.

Her team of employees is able to offer expert advice to customers, since each member is required to pass an extensive test to become certified by the franchise.

For those who may be looking to pursue a career out of their hobby of birds and nature, Ms Robbins said she has never regretted choosing to further her passion.

"I look back over the ten years, and I can honestly say that I look forward to coming to work every single day. We have the best customers in the world. People that shop here are shopping here for a hobby that they love and enjoy," Ms Robbins said. "It's the best thing ever."

Upcoming Celebration

In honor of the store's ten-year anniversary, Wild Birds Unlimited in Brookfield will be having big a weekend-long celebration from Friday, June 9, to Sunday, June 11.

Everything in the store will be discounted 10 percent and each day certain items will be marked down for special sales, like $10 off any birdhouse on June 9.

Guests can win a variety of raffle prizes, including free seed for a year, as well as products like Vortex binoculars and Wild Birds Unlimited's advanced pole system.

There will even be live raptor shows on June 10 and 11, at 2 pm.

Refreshments will be served, along with taste testing maple syrups products from Maple Craft Foods, which is based out of Sandy Hook.

"It's going to be a lot of fun for the whole family," Ms Robbins said.

To learn more about Wild Birds Unlimited in Brookfield, visit danbury.wbu.com, e-mail wbc.danbury@gmail.com, or call 203-775-4888. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sunday from noon to 4 pm.

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To commemorate the ten-year anniversary of Wild Birds Unlimited of Brookfield, owner Margaret Robbins is having a weekend-long celebration June 9 though 11 with special anniversary discounts, raffles, and live raptor shows. (Bee Photos, Silber)
Wild Birds Unlimited is located at 317 Federal Road in Brookfield. (Bee Photo, Silber)
There are products for all types of birds available at Wild Birds Unlimited, including specialty items for hummingbirds like feeders and perches. (Bee Photo, Silber)
Wild Birds Unlimited has a variety of bird seed that is delivered fresh weekly and does not contain any fillers such as corn, milo, yellow millet, barley, or wheat. (Bee Photo, Silber)
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