I’ve often talk to people about bird marts, and occasionally receive the blankest looks. “What’s a bird mart?” Really? You can’t figure out that “mart” means a place where things are sold, and bird is an item that can be bought? A bird mart is, indeed, a place where birds are sold and bought. But not just birds, you can get awesome deals on cages, food, supplements, nest boxes, perches, swings, toys, play stands, and books on birds of all types. I love bird marts. Sadly, they don’t tend to exist continually, and sometimes you may need to do some traveling to find one.
Luckily in San Diego, the North County Aviculturists (NCA) holds an annual bird mart. This year, it will be in a new location and have a new name: The San Diego County Bird Mart. Here’s a link to their information flyer: http://asabirds.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/North-County-Aviculturists-23rd-Annual-Bird-Mart.pdf
Another stroke of luck is the relative nearness of the quarterly Everybody’s Bird Mart in Pomona, CA, at the Los Angeles County Fairplex. Many bird enthusiasts set their calendars to revolve around these bird marts. NCA’s ways and means committee attends regularly to buy cages, supplies, and occasionally birds for our monthly opportunity drawings. Here’s the information for that event:
Should you be lucky enough to live in the central part of California, you would have no problem accessing the huge San Jose Bird Mart. This one is just before the Pomona event, which means the same vendors can cart their wares and hit both shows! Most bird fairs try to schedule around other big shows in the area. Here’s the link: http://www.sanjosebirdmart.com/
Just a short stop from San Jose is Pleasanton, and the twice annual Pleasanton Bird Mart. http://www.pleasantonbirdmart.com/
In fact, California swarms with bird marts, and there is even a page or two dedicated to tracking those events. The one I am posting is a vendor who wants to be sure word gets out so people will come and buy her products. I do think she has great deals on cages. And she includes some Arizona events, as well. http://paradisebirdmarts.com/BIRD_MART_LIST.html
Texas has a lot of active bird clubs and bird marts. Here’s a pretty good list: http://texasprideaviary.com/birdfairs.htm
Parts of Louisiana: http://www.totaltat.com/bird_fair_directions.html
And so on. You can Google your state followed by bird mart and you will get whatever is out there on the web. You can also Google bird clubs in your area, and possibly find events that are on just the club’s web page, not any of the bird mart lists.
Next Question: Why would I want to go to a bird mart? Okay, if you have to ask that question, you shouldn’t be reading this blog! Come on, birds at rock bottom prices, cages, feed, toys? You need some or all of that if you have even one bird in your life. If you are a hobby breeder like I am, you need the cages, food and water dishes, toys, and occasional birds. Even the best bird store in the area won’t be able to meet or beat the bird mart prices. Why? Because these vendors who sell at bird marts do not have lives. They drive around and live on the road, sleep in their trucks or vans, and have to sell a bunch of things to make room for the new stuff they will be picking up on their way to the next event. Some or all of this may not be true, but the real deal is that these vendors buy wholesale, have little overhead (They pay $90 or so for a spot at the bird mart, once a week, as opposed to a few thousands for a pet store every month) and can make spot decisions to cut their prices at the end of the day.
In fact, one of the things to know about bird marts is to get there super early and wait in line for a few hours because all the good stuff will be gone in the first hour. Also you may want to hang around all day and see what sales spring up from the vendors as they think about having to pack up all the stuff they brought along.
A side note about food and drink for you at the bird mart. The San Diego County Bird Mart will be selling hot dogs and hamburgers and drinks, so no worries there, but it is unusual for a bird mart to care about the attendees. At Pomona, you can get outrageously expensive food with little or no nutritional value and lots of salt, or sugar, and grease. Just like at the fair! So plan ahead, bring your own vittles and drinks.
Let’s say you got to the fair, or mart, not expecting to buy any birds. Then you spy the bird you have always wanted at half the price you have ever seen it listed for! What to do? In my experience, you can purchase a nice bird carrier for anywhere from $3 to $10, depending on the size of your dream bird. I also recommend you carry with you sliced apple or cucumber to provide moisture for the bird. You can buy single sprigs of millet at most marts.
So plan to attend a bird mart soon, you won’t regret the experience, and you may find your dream bird! But be warned, birds are addictive. Resistance is futile, you may be assimilated.
Next week a look at bird clubs and shows in Europe and other parts of the world.
Note: I have tried to edit in the paragraphs properly, but WP just doesn’t want to help. I apologize for the difficulty in reading that may occur.