by Cori Hilsgen
The back room of the American Legion in St. Joseph was filled with the sounds of shuffling boards, electric drills and lots of chatter March 17 at the 21st annual St. Joseph Rod and Gun Club birdhouse-building event.
Al Kalla, chairman of the event, said they had a very good turnout.
Kalla was busy helping Charlene Harker, 19, put her bluebird house together. Harker was busy drilling nails while Kalla put the boards in place and held them together.
Next to Kalla was Ray Bechtold with his two grandsons – Maison Zimmer, 12, and Brandon Zimmer, 10, who were busy assembling wren and bluebird houses. Their mother, Kristi Zimmer, had just left the event after helping put together a wood-duck house.
“We enjoy it, otherwise we wouldn’t be back every year,” Bechtold said.
“It’s kind of fun to take time out of our day to build a house,” Brandon Zimmer said. “It’s really fun when the birds go in them and when you find cracked egg shells in them.”
Jeff Brody brought his 3-year-old grandson, Easton Frieler, to build some bird houses. Brody said his daughter, Kelli Frieler – Easton’s mother – lives in St. Joseph. Easton put together wren and bluebird houses. This was the first year they attended the event.
Chris Westerhoff was busy helping his daughter, Morgan Westerhoff, 7, put together a house. Morgan’s grandfather, Mike Westerhoff, is a club member. Morgan’s cousin, Scott Westerhoff, 12, was also building and helping at the event.
Dave Gallup and Mike Westerhoff were busy helping Amber Wiese’s three children – Dominic, 10, Amara, 7, and Morgan, 3 – build wren and bluebird houses. Dominic was busy working the drill while Westerhoff held the pieces together and Gallup worked on another house.
The event was scheduled from 4:40-6:30 p.m., but Kalla said they ran out of houses at about 6 p.m. He said he hoped people who didn’t get to put a house together weren’t too disappointed.
“I want to thank all the people who donated and all the Rod and Gun Club members who came to help put houses together,” Kalla said. “This is one of the best years we’ve had for a long time.”
Club member Ron Rennie said it was one of the best-attended birdhouse building events they have had.
“We had an unbelievable turnout,” Rennie said. “The wood-duck houses were gone by 5:30 p.m. It seemed like everyone was having a good time.”
People of all ages were invited to the event and could make as many houses as they wanted as long as they plan to put the houses up for the birds.
The birdhouses were all pre-cut by Rod and Gun Club members Kalla, Ron Rennie, Marvin Bierschbach, Neil Loso, Mike Westerhoff and his grandson Scott Westerhoff. Supplies were donated by Lee’s Ace Hardware, Manion’s and the St. Joseph Rod and Gun Club.
Kalla said they used 198 birdhouse kits that included two styles of wren and bluebird and one style of wood-duck houses. About 15 people volunteered to help put the houses together at the event.
Rennie said they put together 87 wren houses, 86 bluebird houses and 25 wood-duck houses.