Bonka Bird Toys recently hosted a meetup for Bird Nerds of Florida. It was a great event with some awesome people. See what happened at the Bird Nerds Meetup.
On Saturday, June 12, 2021, Bonka Bird Toys opened its doors to the Bird Nerds of Florida for a meetup of bird lovers and a sale on Bonka Bird Toys products. We are pleased to say that we had a nice turnout, and it was fun to see new and returning faces alike. Meetups like this are so cool!
There was certainly a lot going on at this Bird Nerds of Florida Meetup. Bird lovers came from throughout the state to meet other like-minded individuals, receive tips and advice on caring for birds, get some nice deals on bird toys and other avian products and accessories, and even just to see Bonka Bird Toys firsthand. As Bonka Bird Toys has been in the avian lifestyle for quite some time, there were lots of familiar faces on-hand. But it also gives us great pleasure to say that there were some fresh new faces as well. We couldn’t have asked for anything more from this sizable, yet tight-knit gathering.
The event wouldn’t have been possible without the work of Bird Nerds of Florida and the group’s President and Founder, Peggy Wu. She was one of several bird lovers I had the fortune of speaking with during this meetup. President Peggy only just founded the Bird Nerds of Florida group last year, and it has already seen remarkable growth. As she spoke with others, Peggy offered some tough, yet sincere, advice on getting started with birdkeeping, as well as methods for being a responsible bird owner and not becoming submissive to your pet. It became very clear to me that Peggy brings incredible passion, along with a no-nonsense approach to properly raising and caring for pet birds of all types. Her goals in forming and leading Bird Nerds of Florida are to provide education for the bird community, help group-together bird lovers, and to share information and tips of all kinds.
But what struck me the most about Peggy was her sense of community. She explained to me how being an owner of one or more birds is a major lifestyle decision, and it has a large impact on how other people, including their friends and members of their own families, see them. Most members of Bird Nerds are seen as the “crazy bird people” within their families. The Bird Nerds Club allows its members to just be themselves and feel normal amongst a group of individuals with similar interests and passions. I walked away from the conversation with a strong sense of understanding as to exactly what the Bird Nerds Club means to Peggy and its members. It’s more than just a bird club. It’s a family. This club represents a sense of identity for its members. In most circles, these people are just labeled as the “crazy bird folks”, and while they don’t deny that moniker, gathering together allows them to embrace that title and properly share their interests and passions. Best of all, the group encourages its members to feel proud and confident in their love for birds and to just be themselves and not shy away from who they are. For many members of Bird Nerds, the powerful sensations of belonging and unconditional acceptance are key traits that they will not find anywhere outside the bird community
On some more lighthearted and more easygoing notes, Peggy was happy to share some more personal information. She has two birds, named Nico and Yoshi. President Peggy had a big, gleaming smile on her face as she proudly told me that she has raised many birds from babies, helping them into becoming full-fledged adult birds. She encourages any bird lover, including those with existing birds, or those who may be interested in learning what it takes to properly care for a bird, to check out Bird Nerds of South Florida, and consider becoming a member. The group is based out of Broward County in Florida, though remote membership is also permitted. There are benefits to joining no matter where you are from. Although remote membership may make it difficult to attend local events, you can still receive tips from like-minded individuals, get discounts on vital bird care accessories and build meaningful friendships with other bird lovers.
As a major benefit to joining, the group hosts events all over Florida on a monthly basis. The cost to join is just $100 per year, and some of the benefits include deals on toys, cages, carries, and other avian accessories, as well as priceless connections with others in the bird community. The club is still very tight-knit, with just under a dozen official paying members. Prospective members can attend Bird Nerds events without joining, though joining is encouraged to receive the maximum benefit. Peggy invites interested individuals to check out their Facebook page, and you can also email the group at email@example.com.
Another individual leading Bird Nerds of Florida is the group’s Secretary, Sari Bailey. Along with President Peggy, Secretary Sari has made it her mission to bring bird lovers together and to promote education and understanding within the bird community. In addition to serving as the Secretary for Bird Nerds, Sari is also the group’s social media expert. She strives to promote Bird Nerds of Florida across a variety of online platforms and networks.
Sari was kind enough to offer me some personal tips, recommendations, and advice in getting started with birds. Her strongest message was to do the research before obtaining a bird and to really make sure that you absolutely want to get into this hobby before taking the leap and buying or rescuing a bird. She acknowledges that birds are not for everyone, and they are by no means “easy” pets. There is a reason why dogs and cats are more popular options than birds. But there are also many unique and special aspects to choosing birds, and for a select group of people, birds are just a natural fit for their homes and their lifestyles. Having said that though, the importance of research and planning first before jumping into the birdkeeping lifestyle was the single biggest takeaway I had in speaking with Sari.
A Co-Founder alongside Peggy, Secretary Sari brings a tremendous amount of personal experience and expertise to Bird Nerds of Florida, and she is undeniably valuable to the group. At this time, she has 16 total pet birds, with almost all of them being rescues. With countless birds needing loving and caring homes, Sari says that obtaining a rescue is almost always the best option for those looking to bring a new feathered friend into the family. In order to make the Bird Nerds Meetup Event at Bonka Bird Toys possible, Sari came all the way from her residence in Sebring, FL. It was a roughly three (3) hour drive for Sari from her home to Bonka Bird Toys. Clearly, Sari was eager to do anything to make this event a success, and we at Bonka Bird Toys were blown away and highly impressed with her dedication!
It was their love of birds that brought Peggy and Sari together as friends. And just last year, they were inspired to come together and form Bird Nerds of Florida. President Peggy and Secretary Sari are prepared to do everything within their power to make Bird Nerds of Florida a success. This group is welcoming to everyone who loves birds and wants to be part of a fun and inclusive community. The plan is to continue growth and expansion so that Bird Nerds of Florida someday becomes a household name in avian circles across the country, and eventually the entire world.
What was incredible to me was how the Bird Nerds group brought together so many inspiring individuals, all of whom possess a serious passion and love for birds. One person whom I was told by nearly everyone there that I needed to interview was Jennifer Budrock, a professional graphic designer, Birdhism founder, and 2006 graduate of the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Having spent roughly twenty (20) minutes interviewing Jennifer and picking her brain, I can say without a doubt that she is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. Jennifer is one of those rare people with a clear vision of how she can use her talents and her passions to make the world a better place for everyone. She has an unquestionably free spirit, and everyone in her presence seems to be happier and uplifted.
Growing up in Hudson, NY, Jennifer has always loved art. She spent her youth drawing and honing her craft so that she could one day turn it into her profession. While art has always been a part of Jennifer’s life, her interest in birds came later. Jennifer got her first bird, Ellie, in 2007. The inspiration for the name Ellie came from the character L in Death Note, which was still a rather new anime at the time. However, it wasn’t until 2010 that Jennifer seriously “got into it” and began portraying birds in her artistic endeavors.
Taking heavy influence from the artistic stylings of manga (Japanese comics), Jennifer combined manga-style drawings with her love of birds to establish her signature “Kawaii Bird Style” artform. This style still clearly defines her original creations to this very day. Jennifer has an affinity for plump, round cartoon birds, which she refers to as “Chubby”, a play on words from “Chibi”, which is a slang term used to identify a popular type of deformed manga-style drawings. According to Jennifer, she strives to have her work “bleed cuteness”.
Jennifer is able to showcase her Kawaii Bird Style art in simple drawings, sketches, and the Adobe Illustration program. But she also often takes more creative measures to show the world her work. An example of this is how she has a tattoo on her arm of “Cody”, an original Kawaii Bird Style drawing of Jennifer’s, based on her real life pet lovebird of the same name. While a professional tattoo artist was the one who permanently tattooed the “Cody” drawing onto her arm, they directly followed Jennifer’s own original drawing throughout the tattooing process.
In addition to creating Kawaii Bird Style, Jennifer is also the founder of her own original brand, Birdhism. Founded in 2018, the Birdhism brand encompasses Jennifer’s work, and it is the lens through which Jennifer shares her creations with the world. Birdhism has collected a large and dedicated fanbase to this day, and it is through this original brand that Jennifer has been most effective in reaching out to others and helping her dreams and visions become reality. Jennifer says that “Inspiring Compassion for Birds” is the primary mission for the Birdhism brand.
Jennifer invites fans of her Kawaii Bird Style and Birdhism to check out her work at Birdhism.com and Redbubble.Birdhism.com. She sells various products that showcase her original designs, including t-shirts, facemasks, phone cases, custom illustrations, and more. Proceeds from her works are used to provide sanctuary support and conservation support for the benefit of all types of birds. She says that her ultimate goal is to support the world of birds.
“Saving one bird will not change the world, but it will change that bird’s world.” - Jennifer Budrock.
Some of Jennifer’s upcoming plans include finishing her House Sparrow drawing and starting a crossover between Raven and Owl-Bear. In terms of finished works, Jennifer mentioned her “Magical Bird Scootaloo” and “Magical Bird Lolita”, both of which were tremendous hits with her supporters.
In her real life, Jennifer has four (4) lovebirds - Lolita, Jester, JJ, and Hilda the Sassy Lovebird - and two (2) conures - Mike and Piko. If you would like to reach out to Jennifer for business purposes, or to simply share your love of birds or the Kawaii Bird Style, she invites fans to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you may have guessed, Bird Nerds of Florida is far from being the only “bird club” supported by Bonka Bird Toys. Representatives of other bird clubs were also at this meetup. These other bird clubs aren’t “rivals” of Bird Nerds, but rather they are supportive in each other’s respective missions. They all work together to promote the well-being of birds and to help educate and inform members of the birdkeeping communities. As part of my visit, I took the time to talk with some of these bird club representatives to see what they had to say.
One individual who really stood out was Jody, the President of the Bird Lovers Club of Fort Lauderdale. Jody originally joined the Bird Lovers Club about three (3) years ago, and now she is leading the operation. The Bird Lovers Club of Fort Lauderdale strives to promote proper bird care education and to assist in the rescue of birds. Although the group was set back by the COVID -19 Global Health Pandemic, they are now getting back into meeting up. The group plans to soon return to their pre-pandemic ways of having members physically interact with birds to promote hands-on experience and education that cannot be obtained in any other way.
A notable aspect of the Bird Lovers Club of Fort Lauderdale is that the group will provide financial assistance for proven individuals so that they may rescue birds and save their lives. The group will actually match up people with birds on a case-by-case basis, a program not often seen in the bird community. Individuals must demonstrate the ability to interact with birds and properly care for them before they will receive the club’s support in adopting and rescuing birds. The group also teaches and educates new and less-experienced individuals so that they may gain the ability and knowledge to adopt birds who are in need of loving and caring homes. Other successes for the Bird Lovers Club of Fort Lauderdale include their regular participation in parades by creating their own original floats, and their Partnership with Parrots Haven.
According to President Jody, those interested in joining the Bird Lovers Club of Fort Lauderdale can participate as a local member, or as a remote member. Local members are asked to pay $30 per year for local dues. There are no fees for remote memberships. Local members can participate in meetings, with each meeting featuring roughly 25 attendees. All members receive tips and advice in bird care, and they are invited to attend various trips throughout the year. Jody encourages anyone interested in learning more about proper bird care, as well as those who may be interested in adopting their own bird someday to check out the club and meet some experienced individuals who can help point them in the right direction. The Bird Lovers Club of Fort Lauderdale meets on the third Saturday of each month at 1pm in various locations throughout the Fort Lauderdale area.
On a personal level, Jody has approximately twenty (20) birds in her loving and caring home. Her favorite type of bird is the Moluccan Cockatoo, also known as the M2 Cockatoo. She describes Moluccan Cockatoos as “loud and beautiful” birds. Jody has her own Moluccan Cockatoo named Freddie, who is arguably her favorite feathered friend, though she obviously loves all her birds. Freddie’s favorite hobby is singing. Jody is clearly very passionate about birds, and she would love to see the Bird Lovers Club of Fort Lauderdale continue to succeed in its mission of helping good people find good birds for their homes.
Lastly, some people attending the Bird Nerds of Florida Meetup were simply there to take advantage of the in-person sale put on by Bonka Bird Toys. One such individual was Sierra, a member of the Bird Nerds of Florida. Sierra drove to Bonka Bird Toys from West Palm Beach, and she was kind enough to tell me about her two (2) birds. These feathered friends include 3-year-old Kiwi, a Whote Fronted Amazon Sierra adopted two (2) years ago, as well as Soren a Cockatiel who Sierra brought into her life about six (6) months ago. Sierra was proud to tell me that Soren was free-flight trained, a big accomplishment for her beaked pal. It took Soren about two (2) months to complete the training.
As was just mentioned, Sierra visited Bonka Bird Toys primarily to buy toys. This was her first time at the Bonka Bird Toys Warehouse, and she was amazed with the huge selection. Sierra says that her favorite toys for birds are natural toys that promote foraging and shredding. She also added that she doesn’t like plastic toys due to their more “artificial” nature. Sierra tries to give Kiwi and Soren toys that can be destroyed, as the act of destruction gives her pets feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, She says that a good toy should be able to provide her birds with such experiences, and not being able to destroy and wreck the toy renders the experience incomplete. Overall, Sierra says that she had a very nice time at Bonka Bird Toys, and she also really appreciated the chance to see her friends in the Bird Nerds Club.
We at Bonka Bird Toys sincerely thank the Bird Nerds of Florida for putting on an outstanding event, and we are extremely grateful that we were chosen to host their gathering. We hope to host similar events in the future, and this definitely something we expect to do again. Maybe next time we will promote the event in our blog beforehand so that blog readers may know to plan for the event and attend. For now, stay tuned to the Bonka Blog, and we’ll see you soon!