by Logan Gruber
“I’ve been here for all 22 years,” said Al Kalla at the 22nd annual Wood Duck, Bluebird and Wren House Building Night, held Monday night at the American Legion.
Kalla was one of the original organizers of the birdhouse event. He said it all started with just wood-duck houses and progressed from their. This year, the St. Joseph Rod and Gun Club, of which Kalla is a member, helped area residents and kids build 25 wood-duck, 100 bluebird and 80 wren houses.
The rod and gun club bought all the wood for the event, while Manion’s Wholesale Building Supplies in St. Cloud donated the screws and Lee’s Ace Hardware donated the screens for the wood-duck houses.
All of the material is pre-cut and made up into kits. All the builders have to do is put it together and hang it up.
“All we want is to make sure they put them together and put them up so the birds come,” Kalla said, chuckling.
“Every year we invite the Boys and Girls Club and Kids Stop to come,” Kalla said. “And this is just one of our projects. We run an ice-fishing tournament, gun-safety training and a kids’ fishing clinic in the summer.”
Ethan Duncan of St. Joseph was on deck Monday evening, building a wren house with his mother, Karin Duncan.
“It’s our second year,” Karin said. “We enjoy building birdhouses.”
“I built the bluebird house last year,” Ethan added.
Ethan had a little help from Ray Bechtold. Bechtold has been part of the birdhouse event for 22 years as well.
“I always get my picture in the paper,” Bechtold joked.
He poked fun at a few other members of the rod and gun club who were there helping out, who in turn poked fun at him for being a celebrity.
Ben Sjaaheim of St. Joseph and his mother, Cheryl Wilhelmi, were building a wood-duck house across the room.
Ben and Cheryl have been building birdhouses at this event for three years now, and they have built a different birdhouse every time.
“I like having birds in my houses,” Ben said.
He also said they have a swampy pond by their house, and he hopes to see wood ducks soon with their new house.
To learn more about the St. Joseph Rod and Gun Club, head to their website, stjoerodandgunclub.org.