Home for birds

By the time you unfold the pages of this issue, another year will have pounced upon us and the past one will have waved goodbye.

Time seems to travel much faster as one gets older, and things have a tendency to change as the years roll by, but looking back on the past, the changes are reasonably relevant, with a pattern each to its own.

The first birdhouse that I remember was one that my dad made for me when I was not much taller than knee-high to a grasshopper (height being a friendly admonishment jokingly repeated by my uncle), my age perhaps prior to four, during the tail end of the Great Depression.

The dollars not easy to come by, it was made, not in the usual fashion, by nailing saw-cut boards together, but followed closer to the actions of a woodpecker. It was actually a foot-long piece of an apple tree trunk, cut where a limb chose to branch.

The upper end, including the branch, was cut taper-sloped like a roof, the lower end straight across, forming the bottom. Then both trunk and branch area were hollowed out by using a hand-turned auger. Twist once, twist twice, and again and again – this took the better part of a week, working about an hour each night. It was my job to clean up the shavings from the floor with a tiny broom and dustpan to match.

On the final night, both the roof and floor openings were covered with circles of tin carefully cut from a discarded tomato juice can, an entrance hole drilled in the front with a small apple twig perch tacked on just below it. It was not painted, allowing it to weather, and was hung by a short piece of chain from a tree limb. This particular house was entered in the local fair competition, and I remember carrying it home with the red ribbon proudly blowing in the breeze.

On moving to the farm the next year it hung for years, 20 or more,  from the lower limb of one of a half dozen towering Norway spruce that had been foresightedly planted as a windbreak along the lane by the house, I would guesstimate, at about the turn of that long-ago century. Over the years, it hosted bluebirds, wrens, sparrows, tree swallows, red squirrels, mud-dabber and yellow jacket wasps, hornets, large old spiders, and a bumblebee or two – all interesting creatures for a kid growing up on the farm.

Over the years, my interest in birds has not dwindled. If the truth could be calculated, I am sure that the construction of bluebird and tree swallow houses that were constructed by the behind-the-scene actions of the Little Lady and me would number in the upper teen thousands. In addition, we made several martin houses, a triple dozen wood duck nest boxes, and a high teen number of Osprey platforms – but who’s counting?

Lately, over the last two or three years, since I’ve moved north, I have switched from building homes to finding homes for birds. It matters not whether exotic, domestic or game bird, I have the facilities to house and care for them until a proper place is found. During the past two or three years, a hundred or more birds have found new homes.

So there you have it, folks. If you have a bird or birds that need a new home or know of anyone who has, please feel free to contact me.

Take care, ‘cause we care.





Barrie Hopkins