Sunday, February 19, 2012

“The bird a nest,

the spider a web, man friendship.” ~ William Blake
How about a woman friendship...because it was my friend Ruthie...also known as "The Elf"...who made the birdhouses I am featuring today. Note--made in America...right here in New Jersey...just a couple miles from my shop!!! And...back to the quote, my spiders are doing very nicely in the shop in areas that have not had a serious cleaning! But...back to the birds...My research uncovered some interesting the Turks and the Ottoman Empire are responsible for the design of birdhouses. Bird houses, one of the oldest and most important expressions of the love of and compassion for animals, date to the 15th century when houses were built for sparrows, finches and swallows. Some of these tiny dwellings, whose numbers proliferated with the development of classical Ottoman architecture in the 15th century, were to provide refuge to birds, to protect them from storms, rain, mud and the burning sun.

Europe did not consider the houses as refuge but as traps. They were built to collect eggs or trap the birds for food. Although often made of wood, they were also made of a mixture of clay and sticks. They were designed to closely resemble natural nests so the birds would be encouraged to lay their eggs there.The European clay birdhouse originated from Belgium and Holland and goes back to the 15th or 16th century. In the beginning, wood, basket, or pottery was commonly used but since organic materials do not last, the clay style eventually prevailed. Depending on the era, the clay birdhouse was used as ornaments or talismans in addition to protecting wild birds.
Native Americans used hollowed out gourds for houses as well as wood boxes. They not only understood that shelter was important, but they also realized the birds were helpful by keeping pests under control.The wooden birdhouse design found in North America today was originally used by German immigrants who learned from the indigenous people they met while moving to the eastern part of the United States in the 18th century. Over the years, the design has been changed and improved upon, with some wooden bird houses made to resemble today's architecture and specific structures such as schools, churches and stores.
So, if you are in the area, you can buy some reasonably priced homes! No mortgage needed...because if, as Emily Dickinson wrote, "I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."

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