Featured Blog: The Zen Birdfeeder


Nancy Castillo is the co-owner of a Wild Birds Unlimited store in upstate New York and the face behind The Zen Birdfeeder blog. She shares the comings and goings of the birds in her backyard and often posts interesting and timely bird FAQs, like why don’t birds’ feet stick to metal in the winter? If you’re interested in reading about a real backyard bird-watcher, definitely follow Nancy’s blog.

Nancy from the blog The Zen Birdfeeder

What was the inspiration behind your blog?

I thought long and hard before choosing the name and theme of my blog. I kept coming back to what I feel are three tenets of birdfeeding: attention (really SEEING the birds), acceptance (we can’t control nature), and responsibility (what we owe to the birds and the environment). I thought they all formed a “zen-like” theme, thus The Zen Birdfeeder blog was born.

How long has it been around?

I started writing the blog in April 2007, so I’ll soon have my 5th “Blogoversary!”

What’s it like owning a Wild Birds Unlimited store?

Like any retail store, it’s a ton of work (more than I ever imagined!)  But owning a birdfeeding hobby store makes it SO fulfilling and worth the effort.

Just think about it: every single day in the store, but also on our website, our blog, our Facebook page, as well as emails and other communications, we get to share our passion for the birds! We help people learn more about birds, how to be successful feeding them and how to protect the environment we share with them.

What birding question do you get asked the most?

This probably won’t surprise you: “How can I keep the squirrels off my feeders? I’ve tried everything!”

We spend time with them, finding out about their yard and their birdfeeders and then we share the variety of options to help them thwart the squirrels (and they CAN be defeated!).

We love it when they come back in the store telling us (and often all the other customers in the store as well) how our suggestions have “changed their whole birdfeeding experience!”

What advice do you have a beginner backyard bird-watcher?

To attract more birds and an exciting assortment of birds, provide a variety of food types (like seed, peanuts, tree nuts, suet, nectar, and fruit) and a variety of feeder types and locations (tubes, hoppers, and trays; elevated and near the ground). Keep feeders clean to keep the birds safe. And please keep cats indoors.

What’s one of your favorite or most popular blog posts and why?

One of the most popular blog posts is Evening Grosbeak: A Common Bird in Decline. It was originally posted on October 28, 2007 and I still get comments from folks all over the U.S. and Canada reporting evening grosbeaks at their feeders. That’s been a fun post to watch over the years.

Many readers liked Are You Killing the Catbird Family? because of the important message to minimize the use of chemicals in our yards.  But one of my personal favorites is SOM Seeking SOF, a personal ad from a male oriole in my yard back in 2008.  I still smile when I read it.


    can you tell me what company sells bird seed without millet? i live in N.Y.State, near Poughkeepsie,n.y.12603. everywhere i buy seed it seems to have so much in the bag. i know it is a filler but the birds i have do not like it.if there is a company who sells this seed please e mail me. thank you beylers#yahoo.com

    • Danielle says

      Wild Birds Unlimited does, the closest one to you looks like it is in Danbury, Connecticut or Bedford Hills, NY. You can also order their seed online. It’s the best!

  2. says

    Barbara, some birds (especially ground-feeding juncos, native sparrows, doves, and house sparrows) do eat millet, but many seed providers put way too much of it in their seed blends. Other companies add stuff that area birds don’t eat at all (like milo, flaxseed and more)!
    Each Wild Birds Unlimited shop sells seed blends that are formulated for local birds’ preferences. At our store in Saratoga Springs, our top selling blend is Choice Blend: black oil sunflower, striped sunflower, safflower seed, sunflower chips, and peanuts. Nothin’ else – only stuff our NY birds eat!
    If you’d like, check out Wild Birds Unlimited’s online store http://shop.wbu.com/index/567.0?os=354 or we’d love to see you if you’re in the area.

  3. helen floto says

    Ok you mentioned something about getting squirrels out of bird feeders but could not find it
    where can I get info as I have the acorn suet feeder up and they still manage to get into it.
    How can I get rid of squirrels?

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