By Lisa Fielding

CHICAGO (CBS) — You could say Catherine Tobsing and Mitch Rezman know a bit about birds.

“I’ve done this for, God, probably 25 years now,” said Tobsing. “I started out making bird toys, bird toy parts. The toy parts were a big hit. I would go to 50-60 bird shows a year,” she said.

As owners of Windy City Parrott, they help people take care of their exotic feathered friends.

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Catherine Tobsing, Mitch Rezman and Peaches the Parrot. (WBBM’s Lisa Fielding)

“We differentiate ourselves because we offer solutions to pet bird care,” said Rezman.

Inside their 1200 sq. ft. retail space in Ukrainian Village, there are colorful toys, perches, dishes, cages and dozens of varieties of food and vitamins.

“We have more bird foods, supplies in one place than you’ll find anywhere in Chicago, among other things,” said Tobsing.

But Rezman says 95 percent of their business is online.

 

“We’re one of the biggest websites that caters specifically to birds on the internet.”

Tobsing says many pet owners don’t realize that birds live a long time and need extra attention and care to remain happy and healthy.

“Years ago, we didn’t know how to take care of birds, so they didn’t live as long. We’d put them in a cage, that restricted their exercise and their diet so a big bird may only live 10-20 years, but those birds could live 50, 60 years if they had the proper food and proper cages,” said Tobsing.

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Wooden breeding nests (WBBM’s Lisa Fielding)

The pet bird population has actually shrunk from 5 percent of the pet population to 3 percent.

“Right now, rescues are packed with unwanted birds which has been a problem. You have to have the time to spend with them. Bird parenting isn’t for everyone,” said Tobsing.

Tobsing says Windy City Parrot is a destination business.

“We get so many people from all over the world. We had a customer in today from Michigan and she came here especially to see us. She wanted so many things. People will come from all over just to come to the store and find interesting stuff for their birds,” said Tobsing.

Every Sunday, the store issues a newsletter called the “Birdie Brunch.”

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Rezman and Peaches for their close-up. (WBBM’s Lisa Fielding)

“There are 10,000 species of birds on the planet and we cater to about 750. Birds are unique and all have different needs. We take your questions and we answer them in detail so you become better bird keepers,” said Rezman.

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