- Associated Press - Saturday, September 13, 2014

MOUNT ZION, Ill. (AP) - Ricki Jones suspects fowl play in the design process supporting the average boring birdhouse.

He reasons, not unreasonably, that birdhouse construction is a conspiracy to be nondescript with little boxes all made out of ticky-tacky, and all looking just the same.

But his don’t.

Prospective avian landlords who purchase a radical birdhouse hand-built out of solid cedar by the Mount Zion craftsman are destined to ruffle some feathers in their neighborhood. Measuring from 14 to 24 inches tall, 12 inches wide and weighing up to 15 pounds, Jones birdhouses are in-your-face conspicuous, because they’re all constructed around an eye-catching faces theme.

He builds birdhouses faced with the visage of an Indian warrior, a moose, an old man, a “crazy old man” with wild eyes, a wolf and a bear. There is even a psychotic-looking, but surprisingly attractive, witch called the “Sea Hag,” who boasts a warty chin and looks scary enough to shiver anyone’s timbers.

And in each case, the character’s “O” shaped mouth is the ingress and egress point to the spacious accommodation awaiting below the facial plane for the lucky bird tenants. Jones got the idea after seeing creative birdhouse patterns in a magazine, and he started selling them at flea markets and outdoor events in the spring. Sales of the houses, which cost $65 to $75, haven’t exactly taken off like a scalded blue jay, but it’s early days yet. Jones’ wife, Sherri, who helps him sell, thinks hubby has alighted on a business idea poised to take wing.

“I think they look wonderful,” she said. “The one that has sold the most so far is the old man. One customer told me it reminded them of their late father.”

The house builder is a semiretired electrician by trade who finds woodworking a relaxing change of voltage. His garage has no room for cars because it is full of parked carpentry machines feathered with sawdust. With eagle eye and rock-steady hand, Jones cuts, mills, shapes and sands wood into facial housing projects that can take from four hours to all day to get right.

“I like them because they’re just different,” said the carpenter, a man who never builds his sentences with six words when one will do. “And I like the comments that people make about them, about how neat they are.”

He’ll entertain requests for custom work. One recent birdhouse featured the face of Yosemite Sam, and he is looking to branch out into other areas, such as face-themed bird feeders.

Jones said the sky is the limit when you think outside the bird box.

“I’m thinking of putting some yellow glass instead of eyes in the Sea Hag and then putting a lightbulb in the bottom so she lights up for Halloween,” he added.

A hag with interior skull lighting might be a bit scary for our feathered friends, but there is no doubt they like face-spaced living. The Joneses have the crazy old man birdhouse in their yard, and whilst they haven’t peeked at the bird tenants, they’ve noticed plenty of rent deposits.

“I haven’t actually seen them coming in and out, but I’ve seen the droppings on the face,” Sherri Jones said. “I know they’ve been there.”


Source: The (Decatur) Herald & Review, https://bit.ly/1oJPaNb


Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com



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