Volunteers ensuring ornithological outpost goes to the birds

Volunteers hoping to restore birdhouses for Birdhouse City. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)


Since the beginning of Prince Edward County’s iconic Birdhouse City back in 1980 and than the disbanding of The Friends of Birdhouse City group more recently, it has fallen to volunteers to step forward and repair some of the most dilapidated birdhouses in the “city” made for birds in Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area.

(Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

Birdhouse City began with a scale model of the Massassauga Park Hotel, an 83-room structure built for the benefit of the local bird population by the late Doug Harnes, a former superintendent with the Prince Edward Region Conservation (now Quinte Conservation) and a gifted wood worker. Once completed, Harnes turned his energy and skill to creating an entire city of birdhouses, organizing and enlisting the services of students, businesses and community group’s.

Most of the birdhouses are miniature reproductions of historic buildings and other recognizable structures in the county.

Brian and Eunice Lackey, who brought this idea about thought rather than people visiting Birdhouse city and thinking it was not looked after, they would start fixing it up.

“We thought rather than people coming up here and thinking this place is run down, we would start fixing it up even though it will take a few years,” said Brian. “If we can find anybody from the original Friends of Bird House City group, I think they would have a lot of information they could help us with and help us identify bird houses because some of them have been sort of lost. And some kind of idea of what problems they ran into putting up posts and that kind of thing because this was mostly done prior to amalgamation.”

For this new group of volunteers who are taking on the birdhouses they unfortunately have to work from their own homes due to COVID and not in a group setting. The group is also looking for a place to call ‘home’ where everyone could gather together and work on the birdhouses in a group setting.

“With COVID we can’t socialize so it’s not like we could get together as a large group and socialize,” Eunice said. “Everyone is doing it in their own homes which still gets the job done without putting anyone in danger. We had hoped we would be able to find a building or a workshop, some place we could spread out and still work together, which is still a goal we have but it’s really hard to find space anywhere. Also, this could be long lasting, we are doing this in our houses right now but if there was a local place, we could always bring more people in and it would be easier to say ‘this is our Bird House City office’. I’m sure there is space out there somewhere, it would just be nice to find somewhere we can go.

“Councillor Kate McNaughton has tried very hard to find us something and Quinte Conservation just doesn’t have any buildings and the one here is just not useful,” she added.

With Birdhouse City being a well-loved attraction, the Lackey’s just want people to be able to enjoy the city made for birds.

Quinte Conservation, who owns the land, have been trying to re-naturalize the area with wild flowers and different grasses growing.

If interested in adopting a birdhouse or for more information please fill out this form www.cognitoforms.com/QuinteConservation1/AdoptABirdhouseBirdhouseCity

For more information on Quinte Conservation please visit www.quinteconservation.ca/site/index.php