- Associated Press - Saturday, October 22, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Del Rose always wanted to be a home builder. At 77 years old, he has realized that goal, even if the small cozy houses he crafts individually are not for people but for birds.

“I never thought the houses I’d build would be this small,” Rose joked from his shop in the back of his son’s Junction City property.

Rose has been building birdhouses since 2006, reported The Register-Guard (https://bit.ly/2eNCpST). It’s a hobby that the retired hardware, window and door salesman picked up to supplement his income from Social Security. And he’s never let anything - including two heart attacks - stop him from making and selling his handiwork.

He’s determined not to let the thieves who stole 44 of his birdhouses the night of Oct. 8 stop him, either.

“I’ll probably never get caught up now,” he said. “But I’m trying.”

He was trying Oct. 12, working away on the unique birdhouses. Each one truly is one of a kind, made of wood and featuring a variety of hardware, including vintage door knobs and locks. He makes some of the tiny houses in University of Oregon colors, with a big yellow “O” on them; his orange-and-black Oregon State University birdhouses also are popular.

Rose had placed a table displaying his birdhouses on the corner of his son’s Junction City gated driveway, down a gravel road near Thistledown Farms. It’s a pretty remote site, “unless you know what you’re looking for.”

The table held 73 birdhouses. He sold 23 within the first 10 days, advertising on a sign at the corner of Victory Drive and River Road.

After the theft, Rose was left with only six birdhouses. His sign, that had birdhouses on it with an arrow pointing toward their property, was stolen, too.

“Why they left six I don’t know,” Rose said. “Maybe they ran out of room. They had to have had a pretty good-sized pickup truck to pick them all up. My son moved them just to the end of the driveway from the shop, and he had to take three trips.”

The 44 stolen birdhouses equal a total of $1,080 in lost income for the former Eugene resident, who moved onto his son’s property earlier this year after his second heart attack.

After friends set up a Go Fund Me page to recover Rose’s loss, their $1,500 goal more than doubled in just two days. Rose said he’s touched by the community’s generosity.

“I’m very appreciative, that’s for sure,” he said.

Rose had sold birdhouses at his west Eugene home before, but he was just starting to rebuild his birdhouse business at his new location.

“When I retired, I needed some more funding, besides Social Security. So I thought, ‘What can I do that I enjoy doing that can add to my income?’” he said. “I picked up some old hardware, and some wood, and made these little houses. It was quite a task at first. But people buy them, so I guess I am doing alright.”

He’s tried selling the birdhouses at home and garden shows in the past, but he didn’t care much for sitting around, waiting for customers. So instead, he sells them from the driveway. Rose normally stays at the table, but when he left for dialysis treatment, he put a tarp over the birdhouses instead of hauling them all inside the gate, said his son Scott Rose. When Del Rose returned home from his treatment, almost all of them were gone.

Scott Rose said that 13 of the birdhouses, stuffed into two duffle bags, had been recovered - dumped in a nearby parking lot for a garden center on the Roses’ street. Some of them were damaged, but he and his father were happy to have them back, Scott Rose said.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft.

Del Rose estimates that he’s made and sold around 5,000 birdhouses in his time.

“Some are special orders,” he said. “People bring me a drawing of what they want. But there’s not too much of that. A lot of people go to the bigger stores and just get the ones that are already made and all plastic. I make mine of wood. A friend of mine replaced all of his fencing recently and gave me all his old wood when he put up a new fence. I’ve got a lot of it out here in the shop. It’s in good shape and it’s all cedar which doesn’t rot and it lasts good. He got him a new fence, and I got his old one.”

Rose also uses reclaimed lumber from a house that his son remodeled in Portland.

“These,” Rose continued, pointing at some door knobs he uses in his creations, “were all discontinued from a lock manufacturer, and they were going to throw them away. Might as well throw them my way.”

Some of Rose’s fancier birdhouses feature speakers for playing music, solar panels to light them up or slots for money, so they can be used as piggy banks. The average birdhouse costs around $25. For special orders, customers can call Del Rose at 541-513-0819.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com


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