Outside of a kitchen window in the back yard of the house where Connie Marshall grew up, her father had a bird feeder.
He didn’t take trips with his binoculars to find birds. He wasn’t even an avid bird watcher. He was just what Marshall called a “back-yard bird feeder.”
So, in turn, she became one, too.
“It’s something you grow up with but you don’t think about,” said Marshall, who owns Ocean View’s Wild About Birds.
“It was just a way of life. You feed the dogs, you feed the birds.”
After leaving the restaurant business almost 10 years ago, Marshall opened the Ocean View store in November of 1996 for “back-yard bird feeders” like her father.
Customers in the store can buy anything from bird feeders, to bird houses and seed, to socks and mouse pads with birds on them.
And all this month, she will be offering specials to celebrate National Wild Bird feeding month.
The National Bird-Feeding Society started the monthly affair 12 years ago. According to a report published on the Internet at www.birdfeeding.org, the society picked February because it is one of the toughest months for birds to survive in the wild because of cold weather.
In the publication, the society recommends that people with bird feeders keep them full throughout the winter, and clean any snow or ice away from the feeder and below it to help ground-feeding birds.
It also says that suet, which is pure fat, is a great source of energy in the winter for birds that may be low on food.
“They spend most of their waking hours searching for food,” the publication says. “They may consume 20 percent of their body weight overnight just keeping warm enough to survive.”
Among other sales and giveaways, Marshall will hold drawings at Wild About Birds for free bird feeders to celebrate the event each week in February. And on Valentines Day, she said that she might hold a special called “For your love of the birds.”
After abandoning her childhood hobby throughout her adolescence, Marshall regained her “love” for birding in her late 20s. At that time, she started giving bird feeders for gifts.
“If someone moves into a new home, what do you get them, a candle?” Marshall asked. “No, I get them a bird feeder and a can of seed.”
At Wild About Birds, bird feeders cost from $15 to $200 and houses cost from $15 to $900. She also sells stationary, Christmas ornaments, pens and almost anything else imaginable, adorned by bird designs, and she carries the latest products for any level of birder.
To keep up with the industry, she attends a convention each year in Atlanta and, as a result, she has supplies that six-year customer Nancy Johnson said she can’t find anywhere else.
“She’s got something for everybody,” said Johnson as she paid for a candle with birds decorating its glass cover. “She’s got everything I need right here.”
But outside of her business, birding is still just a hobby for Marshall. She doesn’t go on trips to go bird watching. Just as when she was young, she hangs a bird feeder and watches them in her back yard.
“I don’t know all of the birds’ Latin names,” Marshall said. “I don’t want to. I’m a back-yard bird feeder.”