Local birds will soon be enjoying some nifty digs once the second annual village Birdhouse Competition ends. The deadline for entries is April 14.
The competition, which last year yielded almost 200 birdhouses that were mounted throughout the village, is the brainchild of local artist Mark Blech.
“I wanted to engage the community and get stores involved to get people to see what a special village Ballston Spa is,” he said.
Blech approached then-Mayor John Romano who quickly endorsed the idea. The Village Board gave approval for a small budget to help print posters and some supplies and then Blech hit the streets to gain more support. A big boost came from Curtis Lumber, which offered to supply raw built birdhouses to local school kids or organizations that didn’t have the tools to build them but could decorate them. There is no fee to enter and no age limitations. Entry forms are at www.ballston.org.
But the real focus was to get birdhouses made from scratch. Some of last year’s 32 imaginative creations are pictured here. The rules as last year are specific: no kits or commercially produced houses are allowed. Entries may be made from any found objects — even plastic — but must be sturdy enough to stand any weather conditions, let alone becoming home to a bird, because those made from scratch will be placed along the Jim Tedisco Fitness Trail and this year will remain “forever,” Blech said. The raw-built houses as last year will be mounted by the village’s DPW along the village’s main drag including Front Street and Milton Avenue and taken down in November.
No toxic materials, sharp metals, glass or dangerous material can be used. The house must be original and can be done by an individual or a team. They must be functional and for birds native to this area. Cornell Collective at www.nestwatch.org provides more information.
Because of last year’s success, more sponsors came forward, including the Ballston Area Community Center, as well as grants from the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust and Saratoga Arts. Curtis Lumber also generously provided 250 undecorated houses — one hundred more than last year — to local organizations, such as Creative Endeavors, the local scout troops and 4-H. This year, too, 400 corrugated plastic birds that are about 16 inches long were given to Milton Terrace Middle School children under the supervision of art teacher Rebecca Lyons to decorate around the theme of hope and peace. These will be given to local stores that children can visit and “find” and receive a treat. Also, oversize silkscreened banners were created for store owners to paint or decorate around the hope and peace theme and to hang.
“The village will look wonderful,” Blech said.”
Judges for the competition include Romano and the new mayor, LarryWoolbright. On May 4 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the Birdhouse Competition Festival will be held in the village’s Wiswall Park on Front Street.
Monetary prizes will be given to birdhouses made from scratch. Blech said he already expects to double last year’s number of original creations. Plaques and other prizes will be awarded for such topics as People’s Favorite, Most Artistic, or Best Use of Strange Objects.
“We don’t want to have any rankings like first, second or third,” Blech said.
The festival will also be a nature celebration with various tents including a National Audubon Society presentation and bird crafts for kids. Stewart’s will give ice cream coupons to all kids who decorated a house.
But Blech doesn’t want to stop there. “My goal is to fill the trail with birdhouses,” he said.
Considering that the Tedesco trail is a half mile long and is completely wooded, that means a lot more competitions ahead.
Bring entries to the Ballston Spa Public Library at 21 Milton Street in the village by deadline. Contact Blech at 518 742 6355 or [email protected] for more information. Rain date for the festival is May 11.