What is your favorite shop in the whole world? Hard to choose, but mine may well be The Bird Watcher’s General Store in Orleans, Massachusetts, which I discovered last summer when Remodelista editor in chief Julie Carlson was giving me a tour of her childhood haunts on Cape Cod.
If you visit in person, set aside an afternoon to spend in the sprawling shop. In addition to selling 400 tons of bird seed every year, the shop boasts a comprehensive selection of bird guides, binoculars, bird feeders (many equipped with tooth benders to thwart squirrels), bird calls—and an eclectic assortment of curiously irresistible bird-themed gifts such as jigsaw puzzles, Christmas ornaments, coffee mugs, earrings, socks, and boxer shorts.
Owner Mike O’Connor likes chit chat and a good joke. Customers who tell him one can win a souvenir pencil embossed with the shop’s name. And he will be happy to tell you one. The day we visited, a shopper approached the cash register and asked, “How late will the shop be open today?”
Is there a bird lover on your holiday gift list? Browse O’Connor’s shop for inspiration:
That Quail, Robert
“Just in case there is someone out there who has yet to read That Quail Robert, let me fill you in on the back story,” O’Connor wrote in a recent column. “Robert was born in the summer of 1962. This was a time when bobwhites were still regularly found on Cape Cod. The adult quail built their nest on the edge of a yard that belonged to a family named Kienzle. This pair of birds sure picked the right yard because the Kienzles loved birds.”
After the babies left the nest, the Keinzles found an abandoned, unhatched egg. “They brought the egg into their kitchen, ran it under cold water, doused it with bug spray, washed it in dish detergent, and left it on the counter as a decoration. Then, three days after being deserted by his parents and treated with insecticide and detergent, baby Robert chipped his way out of the ‘decoration’,” wrote O’Connor.
“For the next three years Robert was a local and a national star. Newspapers ran stories about a wild quail that was living the life of a family pet in Orleans. NBC invited Robert to New York to appear on a game show,” wrote O’Connor. “Thousands of people came from all over to see the charming quail that met guests at the door, led them to the sitting room and softly chirped as he sat on their shoulders.”
“Squirrels will open the lid of this nicely made feeder by to get to their favorite treats. Fill with peanuts, sunflower, corn, or left over beef stew (not really),” writes O’Connor.
“The classic, the one and only, the only one we know of, Audubon Bird Call. Even with today’s technology, this little wooden bird call is still the way to draw out birds. It is not meant to mimic a particular bird. Twist the metal top around to mimic the twitter of generic birds to get a reaction and draw out the birds that are around.”
Bird Saver Decals
“Tail Prop helps woodpeckers balance as they feed. Will also be used by other backyard birds,” writes O’Connor. “Made from a resin that will not fade, peel, rot, crack or warp with a steel cable hanger.”