A house for the birds
I don’t usually go for much new stuff at auctions, but I kept passing by these cute little pastel birdhouses lined up neatly on one of the tables this week.
They were the colors of spring in their light blues and lilacs and pinks and yellows. They were either someone’s collectibles or they were handmade. They were also very clean, unlike much of the vintage, dingy and much-handled items at auction.
There were about a dozen of them, selling as a lot. And they were not the only bird-themed items there, I later learned.
Earlier, I had been intrigued by a group of a dozen small glass containers that looked like miniatures of those old bathroom wall light fixtures, the ones that sat flushed against the wall, covering the bulb. These were no more than 4×2, rectangular in shape, curve around the side with ridges on the back and a small opening on the other side. They were made of clear glass, ceramics – one had been painted a deep green – and white porcelain.
I couldn’t figure out what they were until the auctioneer offered them up for auction. These are bird water-feeders, he said, fingering them, and they are the old ones. People would fill them with water and put them out for birds, he added. I suppose they could also be used for feed, too.
I overheard a man next to me tell another that he would put stuff in them in them to keep birds away (what specifically, he did not say). I’m not sure if he was joking or telling the truth, because everyone’s a jokester at auctions. It’s a way to bond and pass the time between your own bids.
Bird-feeding, bird-watching and providing houses for wayward birds is a national pastime for many people. Googling these words brought up tons of sites that sell products, show you how to make a house for them, how to feed them (I found one woman who made lovely feeders out of tea cups), how to identify them and more. You can take bird-watching trips, join a national society of other birders and visit bird museums.
We’re all familiar with that granddaddy of bird groups, the Audubon Society. Quoting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Audubon site noted that birding is the number one sport in America, attracting 51.3 million people.
That was obvious just by reading my local newspaper this morning. The home section had two stories about birding: A design feature with photos of some neat birdhouses and a story about an Illinois woman who photographed birds in her back yard. The newspaper’s auction column mentioned a metal bird up for bids: a 1956 Ford T-Bird with fins, 25,000 miles and still running. Some months ago, I wrote about a husband-wife team who created art pieces from antique items and found metal objects, using birds as the focal point.
I don’t recall how much the bird feeders went for at auction, but someone probably got a good deal. In Googling, I found the names of several makers of what are now antique bird cages – Hendryx, Art Cage, Osborn and Crown – that the feeders could be used with (they apparently hang on the sides). On one shopping site, the vintage feeders were selling for $40 to $100 each. They were cheaper on Ebay, though.
As for the bird houses, the entire lot went for $12.50.