Hey Somerville, Put a Birdhouse On It

One of the first signs of spring is the sound of birds chirping as they re-emerge after winter ends. Even in a city like Somerville you can hear a chorus of song each morning as the weather grows warmer. Doug Pietrzak noticed these birds about two years ago after moving back to Somerville after a stint in California.

He had hastily unpacked upon arrival, haphazardly hanging a birdhouse he had painted on his back porch. It was fall, so the birdhouse stood dormant throughout the winter, but when spring arrived, so did a family of birds.

hipster birdhouse copy“It blew my mind,” Pietrzak said of his discovery that an actual bird family had taken up residence in the house. He couldn’t let go of how easy and fun it had been to paint the birdhouse and see life take root in it, so this spring, Pietrzak is launching the Somerville Birdhouse Project. And he wants you to get involved.

The idea behind the Somerville Birdhouse Project is that people in the community will build or decorate birdhouses and come together on Sunday, April 27 to hang them around the city. Pietrzak, a Davis Square resident, was inspired by other public art in Somerville, like the Nave Gallery’s yarnstorming, and wanted to contribute his own piece.

“The goal of it is to build community in Somerville,” Pietrzak said. “And to create housing for birds. To pass it on and take an active role in our neighborhood.”

Pietrzak doesn’t have a background in birds (by day he works for edX, which provides online courses from top universities), but he did note that Mass Audubon has reported declining native bird species in the state. He hopes that the Somerville Birdhouse Project will provide homes for birds in the area and help them thrive.

“All of the birdhouses will be in the trees for a long time if you build it well enough,” Pietrzak said. “And then the birds can use it.”

Somerville Birdhouse Project

So far the response from the city and the community to the project has been very positive. Pietrzak knows of a few birdhouse building and decorating parties taking place and new sign-ups to participate have been rolling in to the registration page.

“A large part of the project is about building community,” Pietrzak said. “You can come and see all the other people who built birdhouses.”

The actual birdhouse installation will take place on Sunday, April 27 in Davis Square. Pietrzak eventually hopes to have enough birdhouses to populate the whole city with them. And he would love anyone with a ladder to bring it to the installation event.

After such a long winter, Pietrzak hopes the Somerville Birdhouse Project can help people “look forward to spring. We promise, spring is coming!”

How To Participate

Somerville Birdhouse Project
Watch the Pitch Video
Register to participate
Attend the installation event on Sunday from noon-2 p.m. in Davis Square (meet behind the Holland Avenue T station by Au Bon Pain)

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6 Responses to Hey Somerville, Put a Birdhouse On It

  1. Are they making these house sparrow-proof? Otherwise this is a step back for native birds, not forwards. (There are simple things you can do with the size and shape of the entrance to exclude invasive species. I’m not sure it’s legally required, but it’s a good deed, at least.)

    Tracy