John Looser doesn’t make houses for big birds, he makes really big bird houses. The largest “condominium birdhouse” so far has been 9 feet across and had 70 bird apartments. Yup, that’s 70 pairs, mind you, of birds and their babies. And because of the way he mounts the houses, they look like they’ve actually been carved out of or built on top of trees. That’s quite a monstrous nest. John sets a post 4 feet into the ground, then mounts the birdhouse 8-9 feet in the air with the help of a neighbor kid and a farm tractor. Once on the post, the houses are braced with real branches so that they actually look like a tree. He doesn’t use any live trees though, all his wood is reclaimed. He will even custom mount one on an old tree, cut down in your yard.
So you are probably wondering – do the birds move into a house so big? “As soon as I walk away from the house, they start to fly into the birdholes.” says John. “It’s my popularity with the birds that gets me up in the morning.” John Looser was in a car accident 2 years ago and the resulting injury has led to fibromyalgia. “The pain of fibromyalgia has no boundaries. People describe the pain as deep muscular aching, throbbing, shooting, and stabbing. Intense burning may also be present. Quite often, the pain and stiffness are worse in the morning and you may hurt more in muscle groups that are used repetitively.”
John’s self medication is building birdhouses. He began woodworking around the age of 14. His dad was a carpenter and John learned about building from him. He built houses, decks and additions before his accident. After his accident left him debilitated, John retired from residential construction. He found that another way to express his passion was to build bird houses. Their small size compared to a house makes it manageable for John to continue his love of building. “Building birdhouses helps keep my mind busy so that I don’t notice my pain so much,” says John. “As long as I can stay busy, I don’t feel like my muscles are going to seize up and stop moving.” Fibromyalgia has also led to sleeplessness. John gets up early, 6am and works 8 to 10 hours days, every day. Working is his therapy.
Three years ago was when he made his first birdhouse – a small one. He has expanded upon the size since then because “I live in the middle of nowhere, Ontario. I make them big so people will notice them.” explains John. I am trying to set the World-Record and I think that I already have. John lives, with 14 birdhouses on his property, at RR3 Brussels in Ontario, Canada. If you are ever in the neighborhood, look for the property with the large birdhouses. It’s about 45 minutes from Waterloo, close to Lake Huron.
All his birdhouses are made from reclaimed wood. John traded a large birdhouse for a neighbor’s barnwood. He now has enough wood for the next 10 years of building birdhouses – unless he gets ridiculously busy, which he wouldn’t complain about! His birdhouse prices start at $50 for a small, 10-inch single-family home and go up to $2800 for a 70-unit complex. The nice feature is that the insides are made with plywood and they are removable for easy cleaning. You can even purchase the building plans at his website, ExtremeBirdhouse.com
John’s choice has always been to build things differently. His birdhouses include balconies and towers, Victorian styling and bay windows. He loves to watch the birds literally ‘flock’ to his houses after they are finished. His houses fill mostly with sparrows, swallows and purple martins. He’s been working to perfect houses specifically built for Purple Martins by cutting a certain sized half-moon hole for them. This shape and sized-hole discourages other birds and is especially attractive to the Purple Martins, who happen to be quite a popular bird for homeowners to have around. Purple Martins eat many types of flying insects (except for mosquitoes).
John Looser’s work has been recognized by the Art Council of Ontario and in April 2008 he will be include in the Art on the Road show.
Here is a list of his Top Ten Tools:
1. DeWalt Miter Saw: His favorite, most useful tool used. He makes thousands of cuts with this.
2. Skil Table Saw: He uses a small one to be able to reach logs for ripping.
3. Porter Cable finish nailer: Used for putting the houses together with a Pro-Air Devilbiss air compressor.
4. Paslode framing nailer: Used more for base with 2×10′.
5. Delta Thickness Planer: He uses this to run old 70-year wood through the planer to give it a newer look.
6. DeWalt cordless tools: sawzall, skillsaw
7. Black and Decker router: Used for making columns and posts, and for rounding off trim.
8. King joiner: Straightens the curves out of boards.
9. Mastercraft drill press: He uses this to make all the dormers, and to drill out holes.
10. DeWalt Skillsaw: Used for cutting barn boards into sections before using, cutting out nail pieces, and to cut steel for roofs.
You can reach John via his website at: www.extremebirdhouse.com
Jude Herr is the editor for Toologics.com, a Tool Blog which provides information, news and reviews about power tools for the professional tool user and craftsperson. Visit [http://www.toolking.com] where they leverage their buying power to offer you the best prices on professional power tools and accessories.