As winter approaches and we prepare our outdoor spaces for the cold, Mark Roberts, owner and founder of Birdhouses by Mark, is building refuge for the birds.
In 1972, Roberts moved to Tulsa from Springfield, Missouri, to work for the Frisco Railway, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s when he found his passion in birdhouse making. His affinity for the avian species started as a boy when his dad, a retired World War II pilot, took him for plane rides.
“I always thought it would be the best thing in the world to be able to fly,” Roberts says.
His fascination with birds later led him to volunteer at Tulsa Zoo.
“I have been a volunteer (at the zoo) for 22 years,” he says. “When I started, I had the privilege of being able to work with the raptors, which I thoroughly loved.”
Around that same time Roberts was looking for a hobby, one he might carry over into his retirement years, and birdhouses seemed like a natural fit. Today, Birdhouses by Mark has grown to include bat houses, bee houses, bird feeders, butterfly houses and more.
Roberts builds homes for a variety of birds, including flycatchers, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, finches, mourning doves, love birds and more. He says the bluebird and wren houses are most popular, but wren houses are his favorite to construct because their design allows for more creativity during the building process. According to Roberts, the houses are small and can be hung anywhere, even on patios and porches, because wrens will nest in any tiny space they find.
During the winter season, Roberts stresses it’s important to keep in mind that not all birds migrate to warmer areas.
Many birds in Oklahoma remain year-round, such as cardinals, robins, bluebirds and raptors. These birds will use what is called a roost box, a box that might house several birds that will roost together to keep one another warm. However, if these non-migrating birds find safe housing during the spring and summer months, they are likely to remain in the birdhouse year-round.