Stores With Stories: Wild Birds Unlimited

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on | Last Updated

It was a fateful encounter with a little bit of nature about a decade ago – spotting a beautiful turquoise-colored robin’s egg in a potted plant on her Clarence home’s back patio – that placed Angel Swann on her pathway to birding. 

What she thought at first was an errant holiday decoration captivated her: she watched the egg hatch and then the fledgling learn to fly in her backyard. Her hobby is her passion as well as her business as she is the proud owner of the bustling Wild Birds Unlimited franchise store in East Amherst.

Franchise owner, Angel Swann

Although she proudly exclaims, “I’m a Buffalonian now!” Angel was raised in New York City, making her way upstate to attend University of Rochester where she met “A guy from Buffalo” – now her husband. He encouraged her budding hobby and she dove into learning all that she could about backyard bird species and how to better attract them with various feeders and feeds.

“Bright yellow finches were the first to come and then as I did more researching about bird activities I began attracting more species. I was watching my birdfeeder a lot every day and then I realized that I needed to change my career.”

She discovered Wild Birds Unlimited as well, and that East Amherst was an available market. What drew her to the franchise was their emphasis on education, and community outreach: the company, created in 1981, has 300 locations in the U.S. and Canada. After completing the application and approval process, she located and secured her “dream spot,” Transit near Klein Road, opening her doors in 2017.

“There’s nothing like this store in the area, not in East Amherst, Snyder, or Lockport,” Angel says. There is a Hamburg-based Wild Birds Unlimited on McKinley Parkway about 20 miles away. 

The store is cheerful and bright and you half-expect that jubilant little birds will be flitting about. It’s teeming with bird feeding supplies like many different types of bagged seed, and colorful garden accessories like bird baths, flags, and sculptures. There is an array of creative suet cake holders, including one shaped like a sunflower, and others specifically designed for the comfort of long-tailed birds like woodpeckers.

Angel handpicks the gift items that are carried, many festooned with bird images: cups, towels, plush toys, and more. Identification guides on every bird in North America are in stock and Angel notes that a big part of her job is educating her customers. 

“Birding is a simple pleasure and you can have fun with nature in this way and let your hobby bloom. Because my business is a success I was able to hire a fulltime employee – we both inspire more people to love the birds. This is a hobby store and you will get an education when you’re here, our website has different bird facts, tips, and how-to’s. 

“If you’re ready to start attracting birds to your yard, we can help you be prepared, and teach you about when to put your feeders out, and help you learn what will be attracted. Our biggest thing here is customer service, we do go above and beyond and many of our customers become friends. This is a happy place, if you need to get away from all the noise, stop in!”

Wild Birds Unlimited, 8584 Transit Road, East Amherst / / (716) 458-4228

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.