By Iris Winston
For the third consecutive year, birds are to be treated to designer real estate via a birdhouse auction focused on supporting nature-oriented groups and conserving green space.
Dubbed Backyard Beauties 2023, All Things Avian, the annual auction is organized by volunteers Glenda Jones and Barbara Carroll. The birdhouse project, they say, began as a way to involve the community while people were isolated during COVID and raise money for local groups focused on preserving natural areas.
“The first year, the auction raised $5,000 for the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists,” says Glenda, “and people came from all over the area, mainly from Almonte. The next year, we put the auction online and were astounded when bids came in from as far away as Prince Edward Island and California.”
With the reach of the auction extended thanks to social media, donations of birdhouses and funds raised doubled in 2022. Both last year and through the 2023 auction, the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust will be the beneficiary to continue its mandate of “preserving ecologically sensitive lands for the long term.”
“The main value of the auction for us is supporting the Land Trust and doing a little bit to help to conserve land when it’s never been more important to conserve land,” says Barbara. “That’s always been a very big motivating factor for us.”
Last year’s auction involved 58 birdhouse builders, ranging in age from eight to 90, and included a wide variety of birdhouses in assorted materials from paper and stained glass to wood and wicker. There was a vast range in size too, from a miniature crystal piece to outsize duck and owl houses. Along with birdhouses, this year’s auction is to include bird baths, fence décor, garden art of all kinds and other creations that will attract birds and enhance gardens.
“A birdhouse can be built out of anything,” says Glenda, who is working on a mosaic birdhouse for this year’s auction. “It can be made out of an old clock or a lantern or be hand-built or made from a kit and decorated.”
She emphasizes that “anybody who wants to be creative and help the Land Trust” is invited to offer a piece of their work for the auction, noting that all donors will receive a tax receipt, as well as “having the joy of having their piece on display for all the world to see and for the person who buys it to enjoy.”
Entering a creation is easy, she explains, noting that the deadline is April 14. Donors are required to provide a photograph and give a detailed description of their birdhouse, complete with measurements. The information is then to be uploaded to the entry link on the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust website at www.mmlt.ca.
Birdhouses and other items, including a signature piece by local ceramic artist Chandler Swain, will be online at www.mmlt.ca from mid-March and the auction will be held online through www.32auctions from April 17 to 28.
“The auction site is easy to navigate, secure for bidders and the items purchased will be available for pickup soon after the auction closes at the end of April,” says Glenda.