For 17 years, Tony DiPietro has been building birdhouses in Falmouth that bluebirds, swallows and other feathered harbingers of spring settle into to build their nests, lay their eggs and raise their young.

His whimsical avian abodes are made from all recycled materials. Some are painted bright colors and look like little inns, cottages and garden sheds. DiPietro uses old tools for perches and decorations, such as an old plumber’s wrench, water spigot or hammer. Sometimes he’ll attach the house itself on a tool – say, a pitchfork – which can then be mounted directly into the ground.

Some customers view the houses as decorative garden accessories, while others are serious about accommodating birds. DiPietro has been told he should nix the perches because birds don’t need them and they provide easy access for predators, “but I’ve been doing this 20 years and never seen that happen.”

Besides, he says, “people want perches.”

DiPietro said that over the years he’s learned that birdhouses need proper ventilation, the proper hole size for the species a homeowner is trying to attract and a proper “clean-out” for removing old nests.

Bluebirds and swallows are very easy to attract, he says, if there’s an open field and water nearby. But don’t just stick a house on a tree in your yard, or squirrels may enlarge the hole and nest in it themselves, or a raccoon may find it and eat the nesting birds’ eggs. Put it on a free-standing pole or in another safe spot.

You can buy DiPietro’s birdhouses through his website, birdhousesfrommaine.com, or at his farm stand, which opens May 30 at 165 Middle Road in Falmouth and also sells local foods and garden art. The birdhouses are also for sale at Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies in Deer Isle, Cosmic Stone and Garden Supply in Topsham, and Blue Tulip Garden Boutique in Tenants Harbor. The houses range in price from $24-$89.


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