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birding business sept. 2015 400 cover


New Advertising Rates for Birding Business Magazine

New - LOWER - advertising rates for Birding Business Magazine and this web site are now available.  Click here to download.

new products showcase

New products are always on a retailer’s radar, but sometimes the item’s use is not immediately evident in its name or photo.  In such a case we find a short video is quite helpful, so we’ve put a few together so you can get a better idea of what might work for your customers..


One of the most popular new themes for gardens today isquality man-made plant designs that look real and make the garden look neat andcolorful every season of the year.  Oneof the newest entries to the marketplace is Desert Steel with a full line ofvery colorful, well-made metal plants – some that do double duty as a birdfeeder, others have a candle inside to make it a beautiful garden lamp.  Check out this video or visit their website



Flowering Gift Wrap by Triumph Plant Co.

The Flowering Gift Wrap is by Triumph Plant Co.  This is a prize winner product, taking the “Retailer’s Choice” award at the National Hardware Show.  The product looks like simply gift-wrapping paper packed 4 sheets to a package.  But in fact it is gift wrap with wildflower seeds embedded in it that will grow into a beautiful wildflower garden.  Watch the video and see how simple it is to use and how beautiful the finished product looks.  wwww.triumphplant.com.

Learn more about the Triumph Plant Co. and their Little Kay Gardens products.


Connect-a-Clip, is not only very versatile, it’s also quite inexpensive and well-received by retailers.  In fact it was chosen the “Best Functional New Product” at the Gold Crest event in September by store owners visiting the show.  www.connectaclip.com

Connect-a-Clip instantly displays products without tools or adhesives. It leaves no damage to property and relocates easily due to its patented design. The Connect-a-Clip is made in the U.S.A. from durable long lasting Nylon and comes with a lifetime guarantee. Display products such as garden flags, bird feeders and much more.

Visit their web site for more information on their products.

Insects Limited

Purdue University student Dave Mueller founded his company in 1982 based on a comment made by an entomology professor.  The future of pest control is without the use of toxic chemicals, he said, and from that an industry was born. 


red line

Behind the Report:
Neonicotinoid Insecticides ‘Harm the little Creatures’

A report from American Bird Conservancy finds that more than 90 percent of food samples taken from Congressional cafeterias contain neonicotinoid insecticides, a widely used class of chemicals that is highly toxic to birds and other wildlife.

To learn more, ABC recently checked in with Cynthia Palmer, Director of Pesticides Sciences and Regulation for ABC, and the report's author:

ABC: How did you decide to do this report?
Cynthia Palmer: Neonicotinoid insecticides are harming the little creatures – birds, bees, beetles – that form the basis for vast food webs and crop production networks. These small but indispensable organisms are largely invisible in our daily lives, particularly in cities like Washington.
We wanted to bring their plight to the attention of Congress, because ultimately we all depend on them to control our pests and to pollinate our apples, peaches, berries, nuts, and other crops.

ABC: Why did you focus on cafeterias in Congress?
CP: Neonics are both persistent and systemic, meaning they penetrate the entire plant so you can't wash or peel them off. Given their widespread use, we knew we had a good chance of finding them in food. And what better fruits and vegetables to test than those eaten by our members of Congress?
After all, these are the people who can restrict use of the chemicals, develop incentives for more targeted pest management approaches, and help transform the agricultural marketplace so that farmers have access to neonicotinoid-free seeds.
ABC: How did you gather the food samples? Did you focus on a particular type of food?
CP: We took field trips to the congressional cafeterias, where we took samples of a cross section of cold and hot foods. Each ABC team member was assigned to fill separate containers with specific items. For example, one colleague might be in charge of honeydew melon, grilled zucchini, and cherry tomatoes.
There were self-conscious moments when we met the gaze of fellow customers who seemed to wonder about our dietary preferences. We followed careful protocols to prepare the samples and to cold-ship them to the laboratory at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

ABC: What kind of analysis or testing did you do on the samples once you had them?
CP: Testing took place under the direction of Dr. Chensheng Lu and Dr. Lin Tao. They analyzed all food samples for seven distinct neonicotinoid insecticides.

ABC:  Were there any surprises?
CP: We were surprised by the high numbers of neonicotinoids. We had not expected to find them in 91 percent of the items tested, with as many as five different neonicotinoids in samples of fresh-squeezed orange juice and green bell pepper.

We were also surprised to find no trace of the chemicals in the corn samples, since an estimated 95 to 99 percent of the U.S. corn crop is treated with neonicotinoids. We learned about the distinction between field corn and sweet corn: Most of what is grown in this country is genetically engineered field corn, which is used for ethanol, livestock feed, and processed food ingredients like corn syrup. Virtually all field corn seeds are treated with neonicotinoids. The corn we eat, sweet corn, constitutes less than 1 percent of the corn crop. We have very little information on the proportion of sweet corn grown from neonicotinoid-coated seeds.

ABC: Which foods had the highest levels of neonics and why?
CP: Cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, and honeydew melons stood out as the samples with highest levels of neonicotinoid residues. This is consistent with the USDA Pesticide Data Program findings. There are various possible reasons for the elevated levels. In particular, these crops are attractive to pests, so growers may use extra applications in hopes of warding off the pests. And these types of plants might be better than others at absorbing pesticide into the fruit.

ABC: You discovered that the levels of all the pesticides detected in the food samples were below the harmful thresholds for humans as identified by the Environmental Protection Agency. Does your report suggest that the system is working, and no one is in danger?
CP: Scientists are studying the effects on human health. There is enough evidence to suggest this research needs more attention.  But I think the main threats to human health are indirect. The chemicals are threatening our food security. By harming pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and natural pest-control agents like birds and beneficial insects, neonicotinoids are sabotaging the very organisms on which farmers depend.

What's more, a growing body of research suggests agricultural lands that are biologically depleted from widespread use of neonicotinoids actually become more vulnerable to pest pressures, requiring large amounts of acutely toxic pesticides later in the growing cycle. So it's not as if we've replaced the “bad old pesticides” with the neonicotinoids – we are using both.

ABC: What do you want people to understand about neonics?
CP: These insecticides have transformed the way pest control is done in this country. Instead of the carefully targeted prevention, surveillance, and treatment that are the hallmark of Integrated Pest Management, we are indiscriminately covering our agricultural fields in chemicals. In doing so, we contaminate our watersheds and poison the birds, bees, butterflies, and other organisms that farmers rely on for pollination and pest control.

ABC: What can people do to help?
CP: One easy way to help is to sign on to our action alert. Our system makes it easy to send a letter to your Representative in Congress, telling him or her that you want to see our government restrict use of neonicotinoids in this country. And of course, you can avoid using neonicotinoids in your own home and garden!


Cornell and Perky Pet Partnering for Conservation

Perky Pet is joining Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology to provide funding for the Lab’s new ‘BirdSleuth K-12 curriculum.’  Together they have created this infographic to raise awareness about conservation efforts for North American birds.  Download the complete info-graphic here


When the hectic holiday season finally ends it is time for a breather. The pace slows. There is time to relax somewhat, take a deep breath, and get ready for spring, the next peak season.

Traditionally retail traffic slows after the start of the new year and January through April remain quiet. This mid-winter lull is a good time to catch up on the routine items that may have slipped during the holiday season. Pack away and store unsold holiday merchandise. Thoroughly clean the store. Neaten displays. Rearrange merchandise and displays. If something has been in the same spot for more than a year, move it. Customers will sense something has changed in your store. It will look fresh and different even with the same merchandise.

The mid-winter lull allows time to plan and prepare for a booming spring season. Fewer customers frees up some time to work on your spring product selection. Review new catalogs. Visit web sites. Attending conferences, such as BirdWatch America, introduces the latest products. Now is the time to develop the marketing and merchandising programs that will make your spring a success.

Although the slower mid-winter pace may feel like a welcome break, it is bad for business. Fewer customers mean lower sales revenue. Yet your basic expenses do not take a break. You will soon be longing for the busier days of spring to arrive. So why wait until spring to implement marketing programs to attract customers?  Why just accept that the first quarter of the year will be slow? Rather, be creative now and develop some marketing programs that will boost sales during the winter doldrums.

In the current stagnant economy, most large retailers and major chain stores are using a marketing strategy centered around deep discounting and big sales events to attract consumers. They wield large advertising budgets to promote their discounts. As a result, many shoppers are now conditioned to only buy when something is on sale. No one wants to pay full retail price. They’ll wait until it goes on sale.

It is difficult for a small retailer to compete with the marketing might of such large advertising campaigns. So don’t fight them. Join them by using similar techniques but with your own personal twist. Consider some of the following ideas to attract customers during the traditionally slow period.


The Cash-for-Clunkers marketing campaign worked wonders for the auto industry. By touting a large trade-in discount for older, worn out cars, the auto companies sold billions of dollars worth new ones. You can apply the same concept to bird feeders. Have your own Cash-for-Clunkers trade-in sale. Any customer trading in an old feeder, gets a discount of 25%. Or maybe a free 5-pound bag of seed. This offer appeals to any customer who has thought about buying a new feeder but hasn’t. Now they have a good reason to buy one. Everyone loves a sale.

Apply the same concept to birdhouses. Maybe call it a “Flip your House” or “Foreclosure Sale” to tie your promotion to the current news headlines. “Mortgage Rates are low – Time to buy a new house.”

Calendar Tie-Ins

Look at the calendar to find holidays, some national, some not so well known, that you can creatively tie to a sale or promotion. A clever title makes your sale more memorable than just another run-of-the-mill sale. Customers may even mention it to other customers. You can find possible tie-ins for every month.


It snows in January so department stores have “white sales”. Offer a discount on any white product, such as pure suet, or safflower seed. See if you can create a promotion based on these relatively unknown holidays in January: 5th, National Bird Day. 6th, Sherlock Holmes Birthday. 10th, Save the Eagle Day. 15th, National Hat Day. 17th, Popcorn Day. 20th, Penguin Awareness Day. 21st, Squirrel Appreciation Day


Feb 7th, Super Bowl Sunday. Time for a super sale. 10th, Boy Scout Day – 100th Anniversary. 14th, Valentine’s Day. Offer 14% discount. A valentine treat for your birds. Feb 15th, President’s Day. Auto dealers always have major sale promotions associated with Presidents Day, even though neither Washington or Lincoln ever drove. 16th, Fat Tuesday. 17th, Ash Wednesday. “Help the hungry. Buy a feeder.”


14th, Daylight Savings Time begins. Time to see more birds. 15th, Ides of March: Free suet cake on the 16th for surviving the Ides of March (the 15th). 16th, March Madness begins, first round of NCAA tournament. 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. 17% discount for anyone wearing green. 20th, Spring Begins. “End of Winter Sale.” Sale on all winter merchandise, e.g., heated baths. “Get ready for Spring”. Spring cleaning items: Brushes, cleaners, bath cleaners. Become a landlord this spring.

April1st, April Fools Day.

We are making a fool of ourselves sale. Make a fool of yourself and save an additional 10%. 3rd, NCAA Final Four. 4th, Easter. 15th, Tax Day. Need a tax deduction? Buy a new house. 22nd ,Earth Day. Going green sale.

Building a passion for birds online, in store

by Sharon Stiteler | photos by Nicole Rossi

To your average teenager, Lois Geshiwlm and Nancy Castillo may not look like Internet-savvy businesswomen. But in the world of wild bird retail, they are pioneers.

More recently she started interacting with other birders on Twitter.

The Internet is uncertain territory for some store owners, but the ladies who run this store see it as an opportunity and see value in staying abreast in social media.

bird feeders


Geshiwlm and Castillo met in Illinois and relocated to New York. Geshiwlm had a background in forest management while Castillo worked for State Farm Insurance.

They eventually looked into franchise opportunities in wild bird retail. They liked the look and the financial statement of Wild Birds Unlimited.

“When we visited them in Carmel, Ind., we’d had a bad flight and they just put us at ease. We just felt comfortable with them,” Castillo said.

After making the decision to become a Wild Birds Unlimited franchise, the women opened a store in Saratoga Springs, about 40 miles north of Albany and about a three-hour drive from the Adirondacks.

Best Customers

Their location is based in a strip mall with anchor stores such as Pier 1 and TJ Maxx. Most of the store’s traffic comes from the local resident community, with a small percentage coming from tourism and an area race track.\

Though Geshiwlm and Castillo have experimented with attracting tourists in town from the track, that group is not as interested in the bird feeding hobby and makes few purchases.

But the strong retail location and regular traffic has worked well with the women’s customer philosophy.

Castillo says, “What we’ve done for the last six years is build a passion for birds. We talk to customers as friends and we strive to help them be successful attracting birds to their backyard.”

Some of their best advertising has been word of mouth. Geshiwlm notes that one of their most popular products is the Wild Birds Unlimited Ultimate Pole System.

“We’ll get a customer who has never shopped here, but they’ve heard of that pole and come in just for that.”Geshiwlm notes that their average best customer is between 50 and 55 years old.

“They have the personality trait that enjoys the hobby and they enjoy new things,” she said. “Our best customer has a comfortable income and is interested in what’s the newest and latest product for their birds.

“They have graduated from black-oil and Nyjer and they are excited to try something new.”

Blog and Twitter

As the pair worked with their local customers, Castillo got the idea to start a blog. In April 2007 she began writing The Zen Birdfeeder to communicate with existing customers and perhaps generate interest from new customers.

She approached Wild Birds Unlimited first about the blog and though it is separate from the store, she made it clear that its content would always promote the business in a positive light. She got the green light and it has now become a handy marketing tool.

Like any good blog, it has morphed since she started it. One important function it serves is to demonstrate actual product use to customers. When visiting Zen Birdfeeder’s homepage, customers will see updated blog entries on news or current bird sightings from their yard but it also has a Flickr photo stream and a few old photo albums where the possibilities to demonstrate product in action are endless.

The reader can view photos of the pole system with various feeders loaded with colorful birds. Captions will also have notes such as, “Image taken with a WingScapes BirdCam” or a note that the bird is eating Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter. Both the camera and the butter can be found on the shelves of Castillo and Geshiwlm’s store.

For a customer living in Saratoga Springs, this shows practical use of their product and gives the customer the realization that they can get these great birds in their yards too. The blog is handy in the store. If a customer comes in and asks, “I saw a gray bird in my yard today. Any idea what it might be?” then employees can go to the computer and bring up a Gray Catbird photo on the blog.

Since the blog is based on observations in the same town in which the store is located, a post put up that week can answer most of the customer questions. The blog also has a search function, so customers can go right to the blog page and do a search for a particular subject right from their homes.

Experimenting Online

The company has noticed Castillo’s work. In 2008 they won Best Internet Site at the annual Wild Birds Unlimited meeting.Recently, she started to experiment with Twitter. Always striving to be on the front edge, Castillo noticed that Twitter had been mentioned heavily in the news media, from celebrities and news organizations having their own Twitter feed to political movements like the Iran election protest that happened in June of 2009.

Castillo finds that it’s a balance between company and her own personality. With the store profile, she strives to offer at least three things daily: a bird photo, a bird feeder tip and a green tip.

“We always want to be on the front edge,” said Castillo.

“But Twitter is a tough nut to crack. We thought that this would be a chance to interact with customers, but most of our customers do not use Twitter. We have found it useful to see what the competition is doing, keep an eye on vendors and cooperating organizations.”

She also notes that many in the wild bird retail industry can be found on Twitter including Duncraft and Zulu Glass. It can be a good networking tool, but she’s cautious.

““It’s getting good coverage on the news, but we’ll see how long it lasts.”

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April 2011 Newsletter