Canadian John Looser doesn’t just build birdboxes and birdhouses. He also builds bird manors and bird estates. His luxury hand-crafted avian real estate costs $4000.
Says the 56-year-old grandfather of eight born and raised in Acton, Ontario and now living in Belgrave, two hours from Toronto: “ I come from a family of woodworkers. I can remember at a very early age dreaming about building houses but not typical houses. The houses I envisioned were always in the air!
“My father was from Switzerland, and he always made us watch Swiss Family Robinson, about a family shipwrecked on an island where they built a huge treehouse in the trees. I’ve built thousands of small birdhouses for conservation areas all over Ontario.”
As well as conventional platform feeders, traditional nesting boxes, roosting perches, and bird specific accommodation, you can have whimsical but also functional and arty too, turning your garden or yard into a public art space. You can have a Lutheran church in your back yard.
Duluth-based “Loll Designs” offers a two-family “modern” bird home based on Minneapolis’s Hope Lutheran Church, designed in 1971 by architect Ralph Rapson. Winooski, Vermont’s Steve Hadeka’s “Pleasant Ranch” offers Miami-inspired Palm Canyon and Pinecrest-style birdhouses ($200) made from Ipe and western red cedar as well as a breeze block Indo birdhouse based on the US Embassy in Delhi and a Polynesian A-Frame surf chalet birdhouse ($250).
Of all the novelty birdboxes available – from Route 66 Biker’s Bar, Bali boathouses, Ice Cream shop, lifeguard towers, gazebos teapots, perhaps the most ingenious is The Unusual Gift Company’s $50 Big Brother birdbox. It looks like a CCTV camera, although it isn’t. But it will attract birds as well as deter burglars.
John Looser spends everyday building homes for wild birds. He ended up in the building business, but an accident left him in chronic pain, and he had to take early retirement.
“When you’re in such pain, it’s tough to sit still. That’s why I start building birdhouses. A couple of old barns nearby that had fallen down, and all the old barn wood was laying around rotting away. The first birdhouse I built was 2’ square with six rooms and mounted 8’ in the air. Cars stopped to take pictures of it. I figured if they were larger, then more people would stop to look at them, and luckily enough for me, they did! I’ve been building birdhouses now for the past fifteen years and have built over 2,300 of them.
“The largest so far is 9 feet wide, 9 feet tall and weighs 500 pounds. It has 103 rooms and can house well over 200 birds. It took me 2 years to build; many of the houses are built from 100 – 150-year-old reclaimed barn wood (hemlock). I also build many of them from white cedar.
I have always been inspired by the Victorian era. They had so much style and such great detail. Most of my designs come to me as I am building them. I never really know how they are going to look until they are complete. It makes it so much more exciting in the end. I have not done any skyscrapers yet but have thought about it.
“Some look like people’s homes or cottages. Some come with rooftop pools, bell towers, and lots of balconies. All of the inside walls are removable for easy cleaning. I design then mainly for sparrows and wren. They live in then all year round, and they even take care of their own nesting. Each time they have babies, they refresh their own nesting. I have roughly 400 – 500 birds in my yard every day. I have one of the best jobs in the world.”