By Linda Dillman
Dust off your tools, uncap your paint, and design and create a new home for a feathered friend by participating in the Grange Insurance Audubon Center birdhouse competition.
The contest invites entrants to use their skills—commercially produced birdhouses or assembled kits are not allowed—in crafting a one-of-a-kind birdhouse with a base not exceeding 18 inches square and no taller than 36 inches (not including a post) and ready for outdoor installation. More than $950 in awards are offered.
According to Audubon Center Office and Communications Assistant Sandy Libertini, entries must be functional, bird-safe and aesthetically pleasing, they should demonstrate a way to attract wildlife by creating a unique backyard habitat, and makers are encouraged to use environmentally friendly materials.
“The idea for the competition actually came up in our November advisory board meeting by one of our board members who had participated in an architectural design-oriented bird house competition in 2015,” said Libertini. “We liked the idea and wanted to kick-off national Bird Feeder Month with a competition open to all ages to engage the public, encourage interest in our mission and give them a reason to visit the center. The center had previously initiated ‘Art at Audubon,’ but due to COVID-19 was not able to follow-through with exhibitions etc., in 2020. My goal with ‘Art at Audubon’ is to offer artistic/creative competitions, present art exhibitions featuring local, regional, national and youth artists, develop an artist-in-residence program and offer a venue for mini pop-up art vendor shows the second Saturday of every month beginning in April.”
The deadline for entering the competition is March 13 and, while entries close on that date, the birdhouses will remain on display and the public is invited to vote for the People’s Choice Award through the center’s “First Day of Spring” event on March 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All contestants are given the opportunity to donate their birdhouses to the Native Plant Backyard Challenge auction after the competition.
“This auction will be offered to over 200 participants in this challenge,” said Libertini. “Proceeds will benefit the center’s mission and programming. The People’s Choice Award birdhouse will remain at the center with a name plaque.”
There are five different categories for the birdhouse competition and entry fees are: professional, $25; adult (18+), $5; teen (13-17), $5; and group entry (all ages), $5. The awards are People’s Choice $250, Professional $250, Group $150, Adult $150, Teen $100, and Youth $50.
The Grange Insurance Audubon Center reopened Feb. 9 and is located on a former industrial site on the Whittier Peninsula on the banks of the Scioto River in downtown Columbus. The center’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats in Ohio by promoting conservation and biodiversity through education and advocacy.
The 18,000 square foot center is a certified green building that uses geothermal heating and cooling, a plant-filled green roof, recycled materials and other sustainable construction materials to reduce the center’s carbon footprint. It is located within the boundaries of Scioto Audubon Metro Park at 505 W. Whittier St.
“In 2001, Audubon began meeting with city officials to discuss a plan for the Whittier Peninsula, an industrial strip of land that, coincidentally, is positioned on a major migratory bird flyway,” said Libertini. “The integration of a nature center and new park with appropriate commercial and residential development was at the heart of this plan.”
In 2003, Audubon Ohio, Franklin County Metro Parks, and the city of Columbus agreed to collaborate on a project to reclaim and restore 160 acres on the Whittier Peninsula. Of this acreage, Metro Parks leases 84 acres, and Audubon Ohio subleases five acres from Metro Parks for the Audubon center. The Whittier Peninsula was renamed The Scioto Audubon Metro Park in early 2007 and the Grange Insurance Audubon Center opened in August 2009.
For competition rules and guidelines, visit columbusaudubon.org/2021-birdhouse-competition.