When we first moved to the Green Forest, as we called our five acres on Settendown Creek, the birds were so used to having the place to themselves that our presence scared them away. The property had been owned by a couple of brothers, doctors who had money to invest in land. The bridge across the creek was washed away and nobody seemed to need it, so the county just let the road stop at the creek on either side. School districts were divided by the creek. People crossed it farther away, east or west. When our builder started pouring the cement for our basement, there wasn’t even power to plug the concrete spreaders to, but that is another story.
So back to the birds, we heard them only from a distance for a year or two. Gradually though, with sunflower, safflower, and other seed bribery, we coaxed them back and now 35.5 years later we have a forest full of birds. Wrens, robins, doves, cardinals, nuthatches, sparrows, hummingbirds, finches, woodpeckers of all sizes, and even Eastern bluebirds, who reportedly prefer meadows instead of forests. There are big birds, too—owls and hawks, and once a wild turkey, who came to snack beneath our feeders.
So in addition to feeders for birds of all appetites, we began collecting a wide range of houses. Nice houses, handmade, fine craft one-of-a-kind houses. Two of them are clay. The red clay one is by a folk artist from the well-known Craven potter family in Gillsville, Georgia. The grey one is by my buddy, Brenda, a fantastic potter and also one of the best art educators I have ever had to pleasure of working with. The third one is by a carpenter, whose family owns the Bottoms Christmas Tree Farm.
Then there’s the one I traded some of my own artwork (fused glass and fine silver jewelry) for at Wildcat on a Wing in Ball Ground, Georgia. It is cedar with a copper roof that has weathered to a nice patina over the years and I am always happy to see the bluebirds return to it in the spring to start another new family! Finally, this year for Christmas, I bought my husband, a volunteer fireman for over 30 years, this fire helmet bird house off the internet.
I would think house hunting bird families would start price wars over any of these lovely houses. I would think bird realtors would make millions on these houses so close to our feeders with water and shade nearby. Wouldn’t you think that, too?
But…as I said in the beginning, our birds have minds of their own. This is what I saw at the end of the driveway when I was headed out yesterday.