The Joy of Disrupting the Bird Feeding Industry with Humor and a Social Mission

Mr. Canary Gives Thanks to Those Who Believe Bird Feeding is More than just Feeding Birds

As we close in on the Official Kickoff to The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, this week feels like the perfect time to share this hilariously inspiring video. The star of this video is my new hero, a little girl who delivers a memorable rendition of a holiday pageant’s choir selection.

The video certainly has a holiday-theme, but the over-arching idea says more. It’s about finding your own voice…and USING it. It’s about being part of a group, while still making an individual contribution; a message that resonates with me and my company.


Mr. Canary Stands Out From the Rest of the Bird Feeding Flock

I started in the bird feeding industry as a relatively conforming member of the industry’ choir,’ another voice singing the same song and hoping to fit in. It might have worked out too, except the ‘lyrics’ the industry was singing didn’t align with the ones my company and I were trying to ‘sing.’

As a business, Mr. Canary Company isn’t what people think of when they conjure an image of a bird feeding company. In fact, I’ve heard that said about us so often that sometimes I think it should be our tagline, “The Mr. Canary Company, It’s Not What You Think.” 


What Makes Mr. Canary Different Than Other Bird Feeding Companies

Our company doesn’t look like the conventional bird feeding company in product packaging OR personnel.

  • Appearance of Bird Feeder/Bird Food Packaging 

Our bold colors and graphic design, featuring a cartoonish bird and product names like ‘The Bird & Breakfast,’ position  us as disrupters in the industry.


  • Our Company Model

Mr. Canary Company is one of (only?) female-owned bird feeder companies with products in national retail distribution.

Our production partnership with a community agency that provides work opportunities to people with intellectual and physical disabilities sets our business MODEL apart, as well. But even the social mission aspect of our model is different than most. Our model leverages the grace of work – not charity – to lift both entities. 


  • Infusing Humor into a ‘Serious’ Industry

Another departure from industry standards is that we aren’t afraid to inject humor into an industry that looks and sounds vewwy, vewwy seewious.*

Maybe it doesn’t seem like such a big thing, but when I heard the team manager, in the movie A League of Their Own, yell, “There’s NO crying in baseball!” I suddenly realized that if Tom Hanks was the Manager of our industry, he could have as rightly declared: “There’s NO laughing in bird feeding!” 


  • Our Products are Convenient, Simple to Use, and Respect the Environment

We also operate in a specific niche. We don’t sell one more iteration of every product in a general-line bird feeding company. Instead, we focus solely on bird feeders that are Convenient, Simple to use; and Respect the environment.


  • People First, then Birds

We tell people that feeding birds is more important to PEOPLE than birds. Birds are lucky beneficiaries of food for sure, but PEOPLE receive the nourishment. Learn more about the many benefits of bird feeding that aren’t really bird-related at all.

Feeding birds is a simple and readily available way for people to connect with nature and each other. Almost EVERYbody who feeds birds started the activity because of someone they love. You’d be astounded at the number of calls, emails, and actual-U.S.-Mail-delivered) letters we get from customers sharing stories about why they feed birds; and, it’s literally never about birds, always people.


Even today, when I set out bird seed, it’s not for the love of birds so much as for the love of my Dad who reveled in EVERYthing about nature, including birds. Every time I see certain ones, I’m connected for a moment to him AND my Mom. Some birds remind me of my sister with whom I started this business or my daughter, who champions my company and dreams. And lately, some birds make me think of my grandson, Luke, who notices them mostly because he’s just an outdoorsy guy, like his great-GrandPop.


In my heart, I’ve always known that there’s more to bird feeding than FEEDING. BIRDS. Even without market research, I knew. So, in the industry choir, I started belting out the ‘lyrics’ that meant something to me. I’m sure it wasn’t the way the industry choir thought the song should sound. I’m pretty sure they probably looked away uncomfortably or in stunned disbelief (ala the blue-robed ‘Joseph’ in the video).


But to my eternal gratitude, Mr. Canary’s people get our song. They laugh at the way we sing it and encourage our spirited performance. And our little company, with our unconventional look and disruptive voice, is grateful for every one of them.


Happy Thanksgiving; and, Let’s Get the HOLIDAY Party Started


*Bird, Tweety. YouTube. Best of Tweety Bird and Sylvester, Classic Cartoon Compilation. 2018.


(Now get your ‘Merry‘ on and turn up the volume, you’ll thank me. Between the Angel’s escalating verve and Joseph’s WTF? look, I fall out just thinking of it. Every. Time.)




Author: Jan Long

Published: November 27, 2019