ABOUT OUR HAND CRAFTED WOODEN PRODUCTS
I have been making bird feeders and bird houses since I was a kid, usually from used milk cartons, shoe boxes, and similar household objects. While none lasted very long, they were successful in attracting the local urban birds of my neighborhood. Fortunately, I lived very close to a large park which drew a wider variety of birds than I would have otherwise observed in my densely populated big city, eight miles from Times Square. So, I got hooked at an early age and my interest in birds has only increased over the past 50 years.
Since 1992, The Wild Bird Store has been manufacturing our own line of fine handcrafted wood bird feeders and bird houses. From the outset, we have created, designed, and built products that have proven practical, functional, attractive, and popular with the birds that use them.
Bird considerations have always held a high priority with any given design. That is to say, the products have been designed with bird ease of use or restrictions (dove and pigeon proof), safety, and hygiene as foremost considerations. Also incorporated into the designs are a strong sense of aesthetics that appeal to human sensibilities. The materials chosen for any given design are the ones that last the longest, hold up to weather extremes best, resist insects best and are please the human eye.
We take great pride in offering what we believe are the best products of their kind on the national market and most are unique to our store. Having a strong belief in the more personal mom and pop business model (a rarity these days), as opposed to the franchises, chains, and big box stores that dominate the retail landscape, we continue the strong tradition of hand-crafting every product with great care and attention to all the details. We love what we do and make. For nearly twenty years our customers have often expressed their gratitude in being able to own a finely crafted, hand made and enduring product that provides many years of quality birding in their own backyards.
You may have heard the expression, popular with architects, "that form follows function." While this may be true in many of today’s man-made products, it sometimes leaves the observer wondering,” where’s the beauty?” We do not neglect this important part of any feeder’s design. We find inspiration in nature and great architecture, such as the Parthenon. Many folks have complimented us for making bird products that they say look as good as any beautiful art or sculpture.
Our wood products feature the use of inland incense cedar and Port Orford incense cedar, almost exclusively. These highest quality of all exterior rated woods are brought to us from Oregon and Northern California. (We intentionally avoid the use of old growth woods such as redwood). The woods we use are not available in local lumberyards or other commercial outlets. If you lived in a wet, cloudy climate, such as Seattle or Portland, where wood succumbs quickly to the elements and insects, the incense cedars are the only woods that would offer twenty or more years of excellent protection. In Arizona, these cedars will last considerably longer as they are nearly impervious to extreme weather conditions, wet or dry, and are the most insect repellent woods available.
The cedar products we make have one of two finishes. We leave some with a rougher wire-brushed exterior surface. The usual use for this type of finish is found in expensive custom homes as ceilings, wainscoting, doors and/or cabinets, pillars, etc. The use of this type of wood leaves the full dimension of thickness intact (usually a full inch thick). On other products we use planed and sanded smooth surfaces which are cut to size and shape for each individual model. Then we medium sand to uniform and parallel surfaces. Next, we assemble the feeders using highly rated exterior carpenter’s glue, which is non-toxic and environmentally friendly. We use nails for structural strength instead of screws (which will loosen with time) and are countersink them below the wood surface. Once we assemble all the wooden parts they are again sanded with fine sandpaper with particular attention to creating flat and smooth surfaces that are splinter free on all sides and corners. We finish the wood surface by applying our linseed oil/mineral spirits recipe. This step is more for the surface appearance of golden honey-colored wood. The cedar wood has its own inherent cedar oils in it for long term protection. If the pieces are large, finish them by hand using a special brush. If the piece is small, we dip it into a linseed oil/mineral spirits vat, allow it to soak for a short time, and then set it aside to dry.
Next we add metal hardware and/or metal screen. We utilize two different types of screens for all our platform feeder models. One is a fine metal mesh screen such as is found covering windows. This mesh is small enough to not allow even the smallest seed in any mix to fall through. Underlying that mesh is a second hardware cloth screen, usually ¼” or ½” mesh. This screen is of the higher quality welded and galvanized wire mesh rather than the lesser quality woven mesh. The purpose of this underlying screen is to prevent sagging and spreading of the weave in the finer upper screen. Using this method, more costly and time consuming for other larger manufacturers, enhances our feeders with superior performance, appearance, and durability. Screened bottoms allow seed to air dry quickly if they get wet, saving the seed from mold or fungus. After 5 to 8 years of use, I will rescreen the feeder at no charge to the customer.
All the metal components used in our feeders are fully weather and rust-proof. We design our feeders to outlast all of our competitors’ products, whether they are used in Arizona or in Maine. Rust-proof hardware used includes bronze-coated steel, solid brass, and nickel and/or chromium plated metals. Using these types of materials insures each product a longer life span and good looks to boot.
In all the materials we use for our products we have a wide variety of choices available – from inexpensive and short lived to more expensive and higher quality, which extends the durability and life span of the product. Whenever faced with making a decision, we always choose the better quality materials to make the best product. As another example, there are choices to be made in picking the type of chain used to hang the feeder. Lesser quality chain use cheaper and weaker metals and therefore is rated for only supporting a small amount of weight. Higher quality chains use better and stronger metals and are therefore more highly rated. The former mentioned chains may only support 3 to 7 pounds of weight without breaking. The better quality chains we use are rated to support from 10 to 80 pounds of weight without breaking. This makes a huge difference. We try to use closed link chains whenever possible and available. All cheaper and lesser quality chains are made of open-ended links. These types of chains tend to not be bird friendly or bird safe. Birds can get their talons or toes stuck in the open link, becoming trapped as a result and end up losing a talon or toe or possibly causing a bird’s death.
So, are the quality materials we use more expensive than cheaper, inferior materials? Yes. Better? Yes. Stronger? Yes. Safer? Yes. Most products of any kind that we buy result in the consumer understanding that you get what you pay for. It might cost a little more for a truly better quality product, but you don’t have to worry about its performance, durability, safety, or aesthetics. And, we guarantee all of our handcrafted wooden products.
In the world of plastics there are many types and grades available. Most manufacturers choose cheaper quality whenever faced with such choices. We conscientiously choose the best plastics in our products that call for their use. Rather than use the cheaper materials, such as extruded plastic for hoppers and gates, we use UV stable polycarbonate. This is the same material that bullet-proof “glass” is made of. It is scratch-resistant, UV protected so it holds up to the Arizona sun, and is unbreakable under normal conditions.
The green vinyl wire we use to dove-proof our feeders is double dipped vinyl covering a steel mesh. It is manufactured only in France and imported to this country primarily for use in the manufacture of lobster and crab traps made in New England. The double-dipped vinyl coating is quite thick, UV stable and corrosion-proof. It holds up under the most adverse conditions. It is and has been used by lobstermen for years as its anti-corrosive properties make it salt air and salt water-proof. In about twenty years of making thousands of feeders with these materials, it is a rare time when a customer returns such a product for repair. Again, this is why we guarantee our handcrafted products and stand behind them.
Our products are priced competitively. Compare them to any products you can find anywhere – either locally or nationally. You will not find superior products in the same price range as our products.
So, the next time you visit our store, be sure to critically examine our products. Now that you have a better understanding of our standard of excellence, you’ll enjoy using our products even more. Or, if our products are used as gifts, they will provide many years of quality service and enjoyment. And, in this recessionary age, they also offer the satisfaction of owning a truly high quality, handcrafted, environmentally friendly and cost effective nature product.