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Birdhouse Bonanza asks community members to build functional or ornamental birdhouses and donate them to an auction, with all proceeds going to a local charity committed to supporting the environment.

“We put the word out and we had quite a few people step up and say they’d like to make a birdhouse,” said Glenda.

Last year was their first year and they auctioned off 52 birdhouses, raising $6000 for the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, who work to connect their community to nature.

The funds raised went toward their Cliff Bennett Bursary, which provides financial support to students who are going to study in environmental fields.

This year, they are raising money for the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust, a project that aims to preserve areas of land that have ecological significance.

They chose the Land Trust as a tribute to their dear friend Mike Macpherson who was a dedicated volunteer who passed away last year.

One of their sites, High Lonesome, close to Pakenham, was once a working farm. When the farm was sold, the new owner turned it over to the Land Trust.

“They wanted it to be a natural area where you could see things like a beaver pond, butterflies or special rare flowers. The Land Trust is really careful to preserve land in the best possible way so that animals and people can be there together. If that area were gone, all the ecology would be gone too,” Glenda explained.

When they reached out to the Land Trust, they were thrilled as they are in need of funds to upgrade High Lonesome.

“We are hoping to raise $7,500 for the Land Trust because they want to put in new fencing, a better parking lot to make it more welcoming for people who want to come and visit. So, this money is going to a very good cause,” Glenda said.

When Glenda spoke with Xplornet, the auction had already received 40 entries, with one month still to go until the closing date of April 14. By April 5, over 70 entries are up for bidding.

Glenda’s granddaughter who lives in Germany entered a miniature birdhouse she crafted which is only the size of her thumbnail!

“It’s been really gratifying and exciting to see what people have put in. I’ve put in two that I mosaicked with china. The variety is absolutely astounding,” she said.

This china mosaiced birdhouse, lovingly called Hearts and Flowers was entered into the auction by Glenda Jones.

Glenda and Barbara were inspired to start Birdhouse Bonanza during the pandemic winter.

“There wasn’t much to do. People were at home, men with workshops were dying to build something, and people had time to do it,” she said.

They wanted to support their local free arts and culture newspaper, The Humm, which had been struggling during the pandemic.

They consider the Humm to be the mainstay for getting the word out about any activity in the area

“When there was nothing going on, and there was no advertising coming in, it was a struggle for them. We thought we would give lots of advertising in upfront payments to the Humm so that they could keep running,” she said, “When you’re in a small community like Almonte we all have to help each other to make this stuff work. That’s exactly what happened here. People have stepped up to say I’ll build birdhouses or I’ll bid on birdhouses.”

Glenda lives close to Burnt Lands Provincial Park on 20 acres of woodland.

“We moved out from Ottawa 28 years ago. We just think we’ve died and gone to heaven. It’s the most restful wonderful place we could ever hope to live,” she said.

She and her husband invite friends to come when they feel stressed and want a quiet walk in the woods.

“You look around and the trees really do seem to breathe. The trees are moving, there are birds, you can see the ground moving with insects and leaves blowing. To be out there today for instance, the maple trees are starting to turn red, there are redwing blackbirds, robins, chickadees, tracks across the woods. When everything's just getting to you, just come out and walk through the forest,” she said.

Glenda uses Xplornet Internet from home to organize and manage the Birdhouse Bonanza event.

“Today, we’ve got 30 emails just to do with the auction. We use email to contact the builders, contact the bidders, to advertise this thing. We couldn’t do this if we didn’t have Internet. We just absolutely couldn’t,” she said.

She said her connection also came in handy throughout the pandemic.

“The Internet was important to us for entertainment because we weren’t going out in the evening and we don’t watch that much regular TV. We’ve been quite happy with Xplornet,” she said.

The Birdhouse Bonanza auction is on now! If you’re interested in exploring the entries and bidding on your favourite, you have until April 29 to visit this link.