Alyse Burman built a successful career in corporate marketing, but in retirement she is pursuing her real passion: educating people about birds, conservation and nature — as well as the healing effect of birding.

Alyse Burman, right, helps a patron identify a bird at the River Trails Nature Center.

Her presentations to senior centers, garden clubs, schools, libraries, women’s clubs and Scout troops, to name a few, are soaring. So far this year, Burman has 165 lined up, and all in the suburbs. It seems that after spending so much time at home during the pandemic, interest in identifying birds and drawing them to the backyard has taken flight.

It was seven years ago that Burman opened the Wildbird Shack in Mount Prospect. She offered her exclusive choices of bird feed — using a recipe that she developed — as well as bird feeders and other garden amenities.

A goldfinch spotted in the Buffalo Cree Forest Preserve (photos by Melissa Schwartz)

However, this month, she pivoted to a new strategy by offering a pop-up version of the store, where customers could pick up their online orders. The Wildbird Shack Seed SILO is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays, at 854 E. Northwest Highway in Mount Prospect.

Burman also offers a service she calls Birdscaping, or learning how to transform a backyard into a bed and breakfast for birds.

“There’s a science to this magic,” Burman says, pointing to the varieties of bird feed that attract different species. “Just like people, birds like different types of food.”

An Eastern bluebird spotted in the Lyman Woods Nature Center in Downers Grove.

Burman always loved birds and when she lived for a time in England, she noticed the birds in the United Kingdom were different. Consequently, she began to educate herself on the different species, and over the years she has transformed into a veritable expert.

“After I started researching, I learned just how many species of birds have become extinct, by the hands of man,” Burman says.

She now has roughly 40 different presentations prepared, ranging from “Soaring with Birds,” or how to attract popular birds into backyards, to converting your garden into that bed and breakfast for birds, and another she calls, “Migration Has no Boundaries.” Just this week, Burman gave a presentation at the Vi at the Glen in Glenview, all about Illinois owls.

Birders Melissa Schwartz and Alyse Burman on a bird walk at Izaak Walton Park in Des Plaines.

This year, Burman is expanding her presentations into a Speakers’ Bureau, or a Speakeasy as she calls it, which offers any of five different professionals. Their topics include nature discoveries, apiary, wellness and mindfulness, travel logs, hands-on workshops and the do’s and don’ts of social media.

“Our number one goal at the WildBird Shack remains to bring the joys of birding and nature to our friends and customers,” Burman says. “We look forward to continuing our mission.”

Find out more about the Wildbird Shack, here, or contact Burman directly, at:



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