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O'Cains' next chapter is for the birds

Carey and Lutrelle O'Cain show off Rambo, the latest of 47 cats Wild Birds Unlimited has fostered. Carey and Lutrelle O'Cain show off Rambo, the latest of 47 cats Wild Birds Unlimited has fostered.

As mayor of Laurel Park, Carey O’Cain helped guide the development of Rhododendron Lake Nature Park. The Audubon Society and National Geographic had designated 2018 as the Year of the Bird, O’Cain noted early last year as he talked about the large variety of birds visiting the lake and the bluebird boxes that attracted nesting birds. Lutrelle O’Cain’s work focused on four-legged animals, as executive director of the Blue Ridge Humane Society.

In the next chapter of their lives, the couple has plunged fulltime into the world of birds. They bought the Wild Birds Unlimited Hendersonville store, and they’re deep into the learning phase of running the retail businesses and answering questions about everything from the right birdseed to bear-proofing bird feeders. They bought the store from Steve and Heidi Muma, who still own two Wild Birds stores in Buncombe County.
“They are just wonderful people,” he said. “They’re helping us to learn and train. All of the current employees are staying.”
Assistant managers Susan Bailey and Janet Ernst will continue to oversee daily operations.
“It’s so helpful just to step in and rely on the people that know and understand while we are learning,” said O’Cain, who is retired from construction management. “We’re a little bit overwhelmed with what all we have to learn.”
Lutrelle has not left behind her devotion to rescuing and fostering animals. The store for all things birds has fostered 47 cats from the Blue Ridge Humane Society, including Rambo, a 12-year-old who just moved to his forever home this week.
“It’s one of the things that appealed to me the most,” Lutrelle said. “We’ll continue to do anything we can to assist Blue Ridge.”
The O’Cains plan to add some new classes on topics like owls, hawks and other raptors and bear- and squirrel-proof bird feeders. They plan an open house around the first of March. By then, there will probably be a new foster cat, roaming around the store and greeting customers. Fortunately, the store sells birdseed, bird feeders, bird houses, bird signs and bird decorations but not birds themselves.