If you’re in the market for a new bird feeder, there’s a good chance you know about Jim Carpenter’s work, even if you don’t know him by name. He is the man—and the vision—behind the nation’s largest franchise system of bird feeding stores, Wild Birds Unlimited. And he’s also the author of a new book called “The Joy of Bird Feeding.”
The impetus behind Wild Birds Unlimited was a simple idea: what if he could make his passion for nature a thriving business? For years, feeding wild birds in his own backyard had been one of Carpenter’s greatest passions. He also loved the idea of controlling his own destiny by becoming a business owner. So, with a big dream and a small inheritance, Carpenter took the leap. He quickly found a little storefront for rent in Indianapolis, and at 28 years old, Carpenter became the owner of his very first Wild Birds Unlimited store.
Back then, bird feeding was a lesser-known hobby, and most stores at the time had poor-quality feed sitting on their shelves. But Wild Birds Unlimited was different—this was a brand fueled by Carpenter’s strong passion for backyard bird watching, and it showed in its products, its employees and the knowledge each of them brought to the table.
“Bird feed was always very important to me, and I realized how important it is to others, too. I wanted to enhance my customers’ lives by providing them the best way to enjoy their backyard bird feeding hobby,” Carpenter said.
Nearly 36 years later, that sentiment has not changed. Today, with more than 300 franchise stores across the United States and Canada, Wild Birds Unlimited has emerged as the largest chain of stores specializing in backyard bird feed and bird watching supplies. Thanks to Carpenter’s continued love for the hobby itself, the brand has also solidified its stance in providing the best local bird and hobby expertise (or education) in every community they reach.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the pages of Carpenter’s new book, “The Joy of Bird Feeding.” Designed to be the essential guide to attracting and feeding backyard birds, Carpenter’s book serves as a one-stop-shop resource for both beginners and long-time hobbyists to learn how to choose the right feeders and quality foods and how to improve backyard set-ups. It also offers practical tips and solutions to attracting and identifying birds, offering the best foods for the birds you want to see, and how to deter unwanted guests from feeding stations.
“North America is filled with an amazing diversity of feeder birds. From hummingbirds and chickadees to cardinals and woodpeckers, we all have the chance to experience the joy of feeding and watching dozens of common and uncommon types of birds wherever we live,” Carpenter said. “But knowing how to attract these birds can be a challenge. How do you know what type of food to use? And how do you stop other animals like squirrels from ruining your feeder? Over the past three decades, I’ve had the pleasure of bringing that kind of education to communities around the country through each of our Wild Birds Unlimited locations. ‘The Joy of Bird Feeding’ is a culmination of everything I’ve learned during those years, and I’m excited to share that knowledge.”
Each chapter in the book focuses on an important aspect of the hobby, guiding readers through the essential steps of bird feeding mastery. This includes choosing the best foods, setting up thoughtful bird feeding stations in backyard areas, solutions for unwanted guests and more. The book also boasts a species guide to 180 feeder birds with photos, detailed range maps, identification text and preferred foods.
"Nobody in the world knows more about the science and art of feeding wild birds than Jim Carpenter. This book is not only a detailed "best practices" guide taught by the master, but it also lets us share in the sheer joy with which Carpenter approaches his hobby-turned-profession. Cover to cover, this fact-filled manual is a delight to read,” said John W. Fitzpatrick, Louis Agassiz Fuertes Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Carpenter’s “The Joy of Bird Feeding” is available for purchase at Wild Birds Unlimited stores throughout the country.