Strictly for the birds
Temple's Wild Birds Unlimited owner says city is perfect spot for viewing feathered friends.
Birds flock around a feeder filled with seeds and grains. Courtesy photo
Wild Birds Unlimited in Temple carries a big supply of bird houses, feeders, nesting boxes, feed and bird-watching accessories. They can be found in the Market Place Shopping Center at 3122 South 31st Street. David Stone photo
JENNIFER WILSON | June 24, 2022
Tommy Reeder has always been an outside kind of guy.
Spending time outdoors came naturally to him whether it was through Scouts, camping or at either of his grandparents’ farms. Because he was outside, he would often notice the birds. He observed and enjoyed them, but it wasn’t until after college that a unique incident propelled him into the bona fide backyard birder that he is.
Living in Denison at the time, a male Northern Cardinal commandeered he and his wife’s house as his own territory. Tommy’s neighbor garrisoned the enemy cardinal. Meeting in the middle of the street, these two little soldiers would deftly defend their realm, and, unknowingly, cause Tommy’s mere interest to develop into a full-blown passion.
Tommy and his wife discovered Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) while they were living in Chicago, and when they moved to Temple in 2015, she had the idea to open a franchise.
That idea came to fruition in November 2021. Why WBU? Not only do they offer anything you could ever need to attract birds to your yard, but the support and knowledge from established customers and the company is outstanding.
“The founder of the company is still actively involved with product selection and training, and there are at least two naturalists that are employed by the company,” Tommy explains.
WBU even has a podcast that he highly recommends: Nature Centered.
All of his employees feed birds and love getting out in nature, but they have also gone through training to be knowledgeable about birds and the products that are sold. Many of them bring their own expertise.
For example, Reid Lewis is a native plant specialist and worked at Temple College as their horticulturalist for 20 years. At one time, he ran Sweet Briar Nursery in Belton, and he loves helping people attract birds and pollinators — not just through feeding, but through the appropriate use of native plants. You can find him at WBU Thursday-Sunday.
Most of the products they carry are made in the USA, with more than 95 percent of their birdfeeders made and assembled in this country. Additionally, most products have a lifetime warranty and many of them are made from recycled materials.
Even their seed vendor is USA based and he guarantees that it is fresh. WBU gets delivery of seed every three weeks, and blends are adapted to this general area. They will even come to your home and consult for feeder placement, water features and what native plants will work in your yard.
If you are a bird lover, you probably don’t realize how fortunate you are to live in Texas.
Tommy points out “there are 308 species of birds that migrate through the state. There are over 650 species of birds that call Texas home, so almost half of the birds that we find in Texas migrate — going into Mexico, Central America, South America. We live in an excellent area for birds — known as the Central Flyway — they come down from the northeast and go straight through Texas.”
The most interesting bird Tommy has seen has been an Indigo Bunting in his yard on his feeder. He said there have been quite a few sightings of the bright blue bird, and sightings for Painted Buntings are up in Bell County this year. In fact, the store has a “Local Sightings” board that is updated regularly.
Tommy’s passion for nature and birds has only deepened since opening the store. He was inspired to take the Texas Master Naturalist course and was invited by biologists in Fort Hood to assist them with the AIM Program.
This Adaptive and Integrative Management program focuses on proactively managing at-risk species, and one of the highlights for Tommy was assisting them with their Christmas Bird Count. He pointed out that while he was working on Fort Hood, he once saw a Golden-Cheeked Warbler and Black-Capped Vireo — two birds listed as endangered species.
You don’t have to travel to Fort Hood to see interesting birds. Lion’s Park in Temple is an excellent place to see and hear birds, and Bald Eagles have even been spotted near Belton Lake and in Temple.
Bird life is happening all around us, especially now during the summer months, with a lot of birds going through the breeding season. Tommy stresses that it is a myth that you shouldn’t feed birds during the summer and points out that many species have one or more broods in a season.
The incubation period for eggs is around 12-14 days, and fledging can last two weeks or more, so parents are continually having to seek out food. Feeders make it easier for them to get sustaining food, and parents will then bring fledglings to the feeders to show them where food is.
“We have changed the natural environment,” Tommy says. “It’s not like the natural grass prairies — Bermuda grass and St. Augustine don’t have a food source like the natural environment, so natural foraging behavior is reduced. If we can help the birds during the brooding and fledging period — why wouldn’t we?”
“The North American bird population has decreased by 2.9 billion breeding adults, a net loss of 29 percent over the last half-century,” Tommy said. “Scientist have identified habitat loss as the biggest reason for decline. That’s on us. It’s not like there are 2 billion more Red-Tailed Hawks killing songbirds…it has to do with the change of habitat. If we want these birds around, then it’s not bad to feed them in order to give them a higher probability that they lay eggs and are successful at fledging their young.”
Tommy admits that he loves to talk about birds, and emphasizes that he is fortunate to have “as nice of customers as we have coming in and sharing with us what they see in their backyard, and the excitement they get, like we do. We get excited…It’s fun to have that opportunity”.
Wild Birds Unlimited can be found in the Market Place Shopping Center at 3122 South 31st Street. They are open seven days a week. For more information, call (254) 314-2002 or visit https://temple.wbu.com.
Tommy recommends downloading the Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab to your smart phone.
An assortment of bird boxes are on display at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Temple. The business is open seven days a week. David Stone photo
THE SHOW WILL GO ON
Temple to apply for Bell County fireworks ban exemption
DAVID STONE | June 23, 2022
Despite Wednesday’s Bell County ban on the sale and use of fireworks, the 24th annual All-American Fourth of July Family Fun Fest & Fireworks Show is expected to be held at Crossroads Park in Temple.
The park is located at 1020 Research Parkway.
The event, sponsored by H-E-B, will feature live music by the Brodie Lane Band and a 20-minute fireworks show, according to Alex Gibbs, a spokesperson for the city of Temple.
“Due to the drought disaster declaration, the city of Temple will apply for a permit from Bell County to host the Fourth of July fireworks show,” Gibbs said.
“The safety of the community remains the top priority,” he continued. “Temple Fire and Rescue will be on-site during the event, with multiple crews on standby and monitoring the fireworks display.”
“The city’s public safety departments have been included in the numerous event-planning meetings,” Gibbs said. “The professional fireworks vendor will also adhere to safety protocols.”
The free Independence Day party starts at 4 p.m. and also will include food and arts & crafts vendors.
"The city always looks forward to hosting our annual Family Fun Fest and fireworks show every year!" said Mike Hemker, assistant director of Temple Parks and Recreation.
“This show is great way to show our patriotism and give families some safe and exciting activities for the Fourth of July,” he said.
According to Gibbs, those attending Fun Fest are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs. Alcohol can be brought to the event as long as it’s not in a glass bottle.
Thursday’s best bets
Texas Red’s Taproom Trivia at Fire Base Brewing. 7 p.m.
Country & Western Dance at Sammons Community Center. 6-9 p.m. Take a whirl around the dance floor! Come scoot your boots and tap your feet to the lively music of local country and western bands on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Coffee and punch provided. Bring a finger food or dish to share during intermission. Singles and couples are all welcomed. 18+ 2nd and 4th Thursday
Trivia Night at Fire Street Pizza in Belton. There will be 6 rounds of themed trivia to test your knowledge of all things trivia! Other categories will include Movies, Sports, music, and more! Play from your phone! FREE to play! Join anytime. Winners walk away with FSP swag, free pizzas and bragging rights! 6 p.m.
Holy Trinity Catholic High School will be hosting a Blood Drive from 10 am - 3 pm. Schedule your appointment to donate at https://ww3.greatpartners.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/133466. Walk-ins welcomed too. Unfortunately, the need for blood doesn’t take a summer break. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood and platelets for patients with blood disorders, trauma victims, and those experiencing difficult childbirths. A little of your time could make a life difference for someone.
Karaoke at Bo’s Barn. 8:30 p.m.
Spin Night at Corky’s. Spin to win specials, 4 to 10 p.m.
Friday’s best bets
Karaoke night at Corky’s. First song at 8 p.m.
Bob Appel live at Bo’s Barn. 8 p.m. Tickets: bosbarndancehall.com
Sweatin’ With The Oldies at Sammons Community Center. 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Join Kathy Patterson as she leads these extremely popular exercise sessions designed especially for those with mobility issues or who have difficulty standing while exercising. Slow stretches and comfortable balance exercises, while seated or in contact with a chair, will help tone and strengthen muscles to increase mobility and flexibility. Gradual use of hand weights and stretch bands is also incorporated. Easily adaptable for those with physical limitations. Two convenient session times to choose from. For more information, call 254.298.5403.
Summer Sounds Free Concert Series at West Temple Park featuring Jean Pierre & The Zydeco Angels. 7:30 p.m.
First Anniversary Party at Arthur Murray Dance Center in Temple. 1950s ice cream social and sock hop! Open to the public and FREE! 6-9 p.m., group dance lesson at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call (254) 721-9524.
The Yard Food Truck Plaza will come to life with sounds of Astron 55 and the aroma of a melting pot of cuisines. In addition to great food, there will be axe throwing and yard games. The celebration is part of National Food Truck Day.
Megan Brucker live at Fire Base Brewing.
Glenn Collins Big Band live at Barrow Brewing Co. 7:30 p.m. Royal Street Art Walk begins at 6 p.m.
National Food Truck Day @ The Yard. 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Come hungry! This will be a celebration you won’t want to miss. Enjoy axe throwing, live music from Astron 55, yard games and delicious food that will satisfy every craving.
Saturday’s best bets
Leslie’s Tumble & Cheer grand opening. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Leslie’s Tumble & Cheer is coming to Temple! Get to the Grand Opening early- we are limited in spaces!
Belton Downtown Block Party. 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Belton Area Chamber of Commerce is kicking off the weeklong Fourth of July Celebration with a Downtown Street Party featuring live music, food trucks, craft beer and wine, activities and games, and fun for all. This non-ticketed family friendly event is open to the public at no charge with a goal of bringing people together to celebrate in the Downtown Belton area.
Meg Groves live at 11 a.m. at Barrow Brewing Co. Anna Larson live at 7 p.m.
Name That Tune Bingo Mixtape 80s & 90s at Fire Base Brewing. 7 p.m.
Comedy Showcase at Corky’s. 8 p.m. show.
Y’all Means All PRIDE at FoxDog. Bands include Kady Rain, Martian Folk, Lilly Milford, Jordan Valentin, Harper Rynearson. Noon until 10 p.m. This is a FREE event.
Downtown Belton Street Party. 5 p.m. Family fun to kick-off 4th of July in Belton! Food Trucks, Local Brewers, Kids Activities & More! For more info visit beltonchamber.com
Flower Power: God Bless the USA at Precious Memories Florist & Gift Shop. Program to include simple clever ideas to decorate your home with a patriotic flare. Celebrate our Nation’s birthday by creating your own fresh arrangement with a patriotic theme for your home, office, or giving as a gift. Enjoy a shopping discount during the class and the always fun Precious Memories Swag Bag. For more information or to register call 254.298.5690.
Temple College Mobile Distribution. 9 a.m. Need help with food? Visit us our mobile food pantry distribution for FREE food on the fourth Saturday of each month at Temple College. Be sure to leave space in your trunk before you arrive.
Broken Arrow live at Bo’s Barn. 9 p.m. Tickets: bosbarndancehall.com
Sunday’s best bets
Central Texas Film Society Monthly Movie & Discussion presents The Trip To Bountiful at CAC. 2 p.m. In 1940s Texas, an elderly woman is determined to visit her childhood home for one last time.
Summer Lecture Series at 2 p.m. at Barrow Brewing Co. Live music TBD
Martian Folk live at Fire Street Pizza in Belton. Noon.
The Silver Grill was opened in 1924 by John Tischler. Little did he know he was bringing something to Temple that may never leave. What was special about The Silver Grill? ANSWER AT END OF ISSUE
On this day in 1931, Texas native Wiley Post and Harold Gatty took off in an attempt to fly around the world. Post, born at Corinth in Van Zandt County, was one of the best-known fliers in the world. He and Gatty circled the globe in 8 days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes. Their route passed through the northern latitudes and was some 15,000 miles long. Two years later, Post beat his earlier time by more than twenty-one hours. He is most famous, however, for piloting the plane in which he and humorist Will Rogers died at Point Barrow, Alaska, on August 15, 1935.
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On this day in 1819, a provisional Texas government headed by James Long declared independence from Spain. Long, a merchant from Natchez, was the leader of a filibustering expedition from that city organized in the wake of the controversial Adams-Onís Treaty. By the middle of July, he had more than 300 men under his command and had made overtures for assistance to Jean Laffite in Galveston. By the end of November, however, Spanish troops had succeeded in driving the American settlers out of Texas. The indefatigable Long withdrew to New Orleans, where he joined forces with José Félix Trespalacios and reestablished his base at Point Bolivar. Long soon broke with Trespalacios. He and his men captured La Bahía in October 1820, but surrendered four days later. Long was taken prisoner and sent to Mexico City, where he was shot and killed by a guard reportedly in the pay of his former ally Trespalacios.
TEMPLE TRIVIA ANSWER: The Silver Grill was the first Temple restaurant to feature homemade Mexican food as its main attraction. Sure, other places sold tacos and such, but The Silver Grill brought the city a full Mexican-cuisine menu. Today, about two dozen Mexican restaurants serve Temple.