Creating Backyard Habitats with Wild Birds Unlimited
Writer / Heather Chastain
A Hoosier company with Avon roots is working on a national level to help preserve and protect nature. Wild Birds Unlimited, located in the Avon Station shopping center, is just one of 300 stores nationwide working to bring people and nature together.
Fifteen years ago, self-proclaimed nature lovers Doug and Michelle Moon opened the store and have been helping locals create backyard habitats for birds.
“To have a habitat, you need four elements: food, water, shelter and a place to raise young,” Doug said. “Food could consist of seed or natural plants. Water could be a stream or a bird bath. Shelter could be a shrub or evergreen and the place to raise young is often a bird house.”
Van Buren Elementary School, where the Moon’s daughter attends, in Plainfield has a schoolyard habitat. Students get to fill the feeders and there are windows where they can look into the courtyard and see the birds.
The specialty store focuses primarily on bird feeders, bird baths, seed and houses. The certified bird feeding specialists can also help you attract more birds to your yard with some of their bird bath accessories. A heater can keep water from freezing during the cold winter months while a dripper, mister or water wiggler can help attract more birds as they are intrigued by moving water.
Wild Birds Unlimited is also working to raise awareness about animals in nature. Finding that balance between people and nature can be difficult with new subdivisions and highways being built all the time.
“When the airport expanded it infringed on a creek in Sodalis Nature Park,” Doug said. “So, a wetland was created in McCloud Nature Park in North Salem to help make up for what was destroyed.”
Canadian geese, the geese with the black head and brown body, are a common sight around town. They are known for being aggressive and territorial. Moon said the number of these geese is a problem created by people.
“We’ve created these big open areas with no predators,” Moon said. “It’s a perfect place for the geese, but people don’t often see it that way.”
In October 2016, Wild Birds Unlimited hosted a bat expert in store to speak about the importance of bats.
“Bats are pollinators, just like bees,” Doug said. “Bats pollinate tons of food we eat from bananas to chocolate. They eat thousands of insects a day. People don’t realize how important bats are to us.”
Wild Birds Unlimited is also part of the efforts with Operation Migration.
Operation Migration is a non-profit organization that uses ultralight aircraft to teach whooping cranes to migrate. The flight path is from Wisconsin to Florida. Doug said Indiana used to be part of the flight path but isn’t any longer due to unpredictable weather conditions.
Wild Birds Unlimited is open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.