"I want one of those," Betty Kezar decided eight years ago, gazing at a bird shelter while visiting the Uni-versity of Minnesota arboretum. Many different types of birds were flying in and out of the structure, creating a peaceful scene that Betty thought would be a perfect complement to her garden.
Back home in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, Betty and her daughter, Nanci, brainstormed ideas to re-create the shelter on the Kezar acreage. They decided the wooden framework of an old greenhouse had the most potential.
Building the bird sanctuary was a rather simple process. The first step was to knock out the greenhouse's acrylic plastic panels, leaving the framework bare. Betty then planted hops along the base of the frame. The plants eventually wound their way up and over the structure, creating walls and a roof.
Although the hops provide a covering for the sanctuary, they must be trimmed back in the fall so new shoots can grow in the spring. Betty says if she doesn't prune the plants, they grow over the sanctuary's entrance, making it impossible to change the feeders or water kept inside the shelter.
"The hops keep growing bigger and bigger," she says. "They don't like growing on the south side, but they've grown so large on the north that they hang over and cover that side anyway."
Keeping the hops under control and refilling water containers and bird feeders are the only upkeep in-volved with the sanctuary, Betty says. The birds stop by for a sunflower seed snack or a drink of water and then they fly off again. She says birds never nest in the shelter.
Betty can watch and enjoy the birds that visit the sanctuary from both a sitting place in her garden and from the house. "I love watching the birds go in and out," she says. "Many types of birds come, including nuthatches, finches, and whatever birds are around."
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