by Dennis Dalman
The click-clack of wooden pieces and the rat-a-tat-whirring sounds of automatic screwdrivers were sure signs of a pre-spring ritual in Rice on the morning of March 12.
On a beautiful warm, sun-drenched morning, dozens of parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren gathered to build bird houses inside the shop of D & D Construction just to the west of the railroad tracks on Rice’s Main Street.
For 30 years, the bird-house-building day has been a project of the Rice Area Sportsmen’s Club. Years ago, the activity took place at Sauk Rapids-Rice and Sartell high schools. But about six years ago, the club decided to hold the event at D & D Construction, thanks to its owner Dave Theyen, a member of the Sportsmen’s Club.
Every year, adults and children enjoy putting together the pre-cut houses. They have their choice of either a bluebird house or the larger wood-duck houses. This time, 25 of the former and 50 of the latter were put together by young and old using automatic screwdrivers.
Among the volunteers and builders were the Rice Boy Scouts and some members of the Benton County 4-H Club, along with Sportsmen’s Club members, such as long-time former president Mitch Fiedler and new president Gerome Kahl.
The pre-cut wood pieces for the houses are provided by Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge of Little Falls, who has partnered with the Rice Area Sportsmen’s Club for several years to make the popular activity possible.
“We’re a club that supports habitat – whether for wood ducks, bluebirds, deer, pheasants, you name it,” Kahl said. “It’s all part of nature and getting people involved in it.”
Those who put together the bird houses are able to take them home and put them up wherever they please, providing homes for many a happy bird.