OGDEN -- The birdhouses at Ogden Nature Center have nearly doubled.
Sixty-six new birdhouses have been added to the existing 70 or more along Birdhouse Trail as part of the annual Birdhouse Exhibit, on display April 19 through August 30.
The 21st annual birdhouse competition asked participants for creative, functional, environmentally friendly and durable backyard habitats for birds. The competition targets local artists of all ages, offering a chance to submit one or two birdhouses, and to be rewarded for their work.
"In the meantime, backyards everywhere benefit from it because they provide a habitat for nesting birds here in the city," said event organizer Linda Babcock, who has assisted with the event for the past 19 years.
The competition varies every year said Babcock, of Eden. This year, entries range from elegant to rustic. Categories are offered for child, adult and collaborative entries.
"Given exactly the same parameters, people come up with inventive ideas that are so different from each other," she said, "It is great to see what imaginations the entrants have."
Each year, two artists and one naturalist are invited to judge, and asked to focus on form, creativity, and creative use of materials.
Artist Amber Hansen, of North Ogden, has volunteered for several years as a resident animal feeder/handler and has helped create some of the exhibits used at the center. This was her first time judging this show, although she has judged other exhibits in the past.
"There are many surprisingly unique approaches," said Hansen, who competed in the center's Birdhouse Competition nine years ago. "It was fun to be on the other side of the show this time."
After the two-hour judging process was complete, Babcock and her team prepared the reception.
"What I enjoy most is seeing the entries and then strategically 'planting' them along the trail so the exhibit will be eye-catching and fun," Babcock said. "I also love hearing the stories the winners tell about how they thought up their birdhouses and then went about creating them."
Best of Show went to Nathen Byrne, of Ogden, for his piece "Brass House" made from copper, brass and steel.
"It was made from a brass float from an evaporator cooler that my work (Nelson Intermountain Crane) was going to throw away," he said. "I knew I would make something out of it eventually and when I saw the birdhouse competition in an advertisement I began sculpting. And it took off. I had a vision of a birdhouse and worked on it until it was complete."
It took six hours to build, Byrne said.
"I was fighting not to make holes in it the whole time."
Because of the heat element it had to be completed in one session.
"I didn't realize it was as unique as it is," said Byrne, who will donate his birdhouse to the center.
Byrne plans to top the one he did this year in future years.
"This competition has inspired me to enter more art, not just birdhouses or competitions ... to get more involved."
Norm Skachy, of Eden, won Judge's Choice for his piece, "Oriental Beach House." Skachy built his birdhouse from pine needles, wood and pebbles.
Rick Steen, of Salt Lake City, won Honorable Mention for "The Lighthouse," a piece made from recycled materials.
The Ogden Nature Center will award cash prizes to several winners during the opening reception, April 19.
Babcock believes this competition and exhibit will encourage the continuation of nature conservation.
"In the future, we hope to continue filling our trail with new birdhouses that inspire the thousands of people who visit ONC annually to carry their ideas back home and continue to perpetuate the cultivation of backyard gardens and homes for birds."
Contact reporter Morgan Briesmaster at 801-625-4268 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @SE_mbriesmaster.
- WHAT: Birdhouse Exhibit
- WHEN: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday - Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays; opening reception, noon-4 p.m. April 19
- WHERE: Ogden Nature Center, 966 W. 12th Street, Ogden.
- TICKETS: $4, $2/children; $2/Earth Day special. www.ogdennaturecenter.org, 801-621-7595