By Michelle Colesanti

Birding has been a passion of Rich Crete for over 35 years. While playing a game of Frisbee, he was surprised to spot a Wood Duck in a tree. Unaware ducks even roosted in trees, it piqued his interest and he started researching birds; a passion he has made into a career.

Rich’s Backyard Birds has nested in FishHawk for eight years. In early December, it will migrate from its current FishHawk location to 3642 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Valrico (Erindale Plaza).

“I am moving because the business has matured enough that it has become a destination,” said Crete.

Crete is excited about the location being in a more densely populated area as well as having signage access on Lithia Pinecrest Rd. He is hoping his FishHawk customers will continue to support him in the new location and will gain new customers along the Valrico corridor.

Crete opened his shop in order to share his birding passion. With so many families busy with day to day activities, bird watching is an activity a family can share right in their own backyard.

“You can watch birds wherever you are, the park, in your backyard. There is no place that there are not birds and that is cool,” observed Crete.

Rich’s Backyard Birds offers a large variety of bird feeders, including squirrel busters, and many bird baths to choose from. There are many choices of garden flags along with yard and wall art. Crete is also an authorized dealer of Vortex Binoculars as well.

Bird seed is one of Rich’s Backyard Birds main offerings. Why buy your seed from there instead of a Big Box store? “It’s simple. No filler; no milo, no red millet, no grass seed. Those seeds make the blends less desirable,” commented Crete. The Signature Blend Seed is specifically made to appeal to local birds. Also offered is the Patio Blend which has no shells. No mess under the feeder and no germination. Another reason is freshness. At Rich’s Backyard Birds, over 2,000 lbs. of seeds are sold every two to three weeks, therefore assuring the seeds purchased are fresh. Seeds have a two month shelf life, and since there is less product turnover in the larger stores, there is no guarantee the seeds will be fresh.

Whether you are a beginner wanting to learn about birds or an advanced birding enthusiast, Crete will share his passion with you and will help you make the best choices for your outdoor living space.

Rich’s Backyard Birds is also home to Audubon, a 10-year-old rescue adopted from Cat Call in Valrico. She has been the house cat since the store has opened. Crete tries to educate about the importance of keeping their cats indoors, not only for the safety of the cats, but also for the bird population.

You can visit Rich’s Backyard Birds at its new location on Monday to Friday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

For more information, call 657-2473 or visit

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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.