Verna and Gareld Stockdale of Spring Valley pose with the bluebird houses they donated to Lake Louise State Park last week.
Verna and Gareld Stockdale of Spring Valley pose with the bluebird houses they donated to Lake Louise State Park last week.
Gareld and Verna Stockdale of Spring Valley recently donated 10 bluebird houses to Lake Louise State Park near LeRoy.

The Stockdales, who have been campground hosts at Lake Louise for nine seasons, made the nesting boxes. Nine of them are the Peterson style and one is standard. The couple has been making birdhouses and other wood items as a hobby for the past two years, "since retirement," they said. They find patterns for their birdhouses out of books and from the Internet.

The Peterson style has a smaller floor that makes it easier for the birds to construct their nest. It has a large oval entrance hole, which is said to be more desirable to Eastern bluebirds. The large, tapered roof on top of the box will protect the birds from rain and sun, and also helps deter predators.

The birdhouses donated to the state park are made of cedar. Verna says this harder wood "looks nicer and lasts longer." She also puts a coat of oil over the wood to get the desired protection.

Gareld said this was their first time making nesting boxes for bluebirds. Once the pattern was worked out, he said they were easy to assemble. "It was a fun project," he said.

Ron Olson of Stewartville, was on hand to accept the donation of birdhouses from the Stockdales. He is associated with the Bluebird Recovery Program and will install the birdhouses at Lake Louise this spring. He also monitors the birdhouses and bluebird eggs laid at the park from April until the middle of July. Last year he put up 34 birdhouses, but he was unsure about how many would go up this spring. He noted about 80 bluebirds per year fledge at the park.

Olson said these birdhouses would be located along the Shooting Star State Trail, where travelers along the path will be able to see them.

The couple decided to build birdhouses because they have always been interested in birds and other creatures in nature. At their home in Spring Valley, in the back yard one can see many feeders, birdhouses, a bat house and a butterfly house. They donated three bat houses to Forestville State Park last year.

The Stockdales really enjoy their seasonal "gig" at the park. They stay in their camper from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, "welcoming people" to the park and generally helping campers out. Their "home away from home" there is surrounded by eight bird feeders and eight birdhouses. Gareld said 45 different bird species have been spotted there.

Verna noted, "We tell people what there is to do in the area and places to go to eat."

"We make them feel welcome," she added.

Gareld added, "We have met people from several different countries and have made a lot of good friends."

"It's a fun experience," he concluded.