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Residents welcome feathery friends with feeders and houses

POSTED: August 29, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Cheryl Ellenburg leans against one of her 25 birdhouses on Wednesday as her 2-year-old grandson Luke Howard plays nearby.

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With fall fast approaching, the nation’s bird watchers are listening for chirps, calls and the flutter of fast-flying wings.

“There’s a lot of excitement when it comes to watching birds,” said Cheryl Ellenburg, local bird supporter. “To have a bird come to your feeder that you’ve never seen before — that’s something I enjoy. It’s fun to see something that maybe you’ve never seen before.”

The Gainesville resident and Hall County Master Gardener is just one of some 46 million Americans who consider themselves bird watchers, according to the latest National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. And she’s just another consumer in the booming bird industry, which profits to the tune of $4 billion in bird feed and $970 million on nest boxes, birdhouses, birdfeeders and birdbaths.

“It’s getting to that time of year when I put out my seed and wait to see what I see,” Ellenburg said.

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, winter serves as one of the most popular seasons for feeding birds and preparing bird houses.

Just as Ellenburg enjoys feeding the birds — “All of God’s creatures need a little extra help,” she said. — Jerry Elkins loves housing them.

The Helen resident has upward of 80 birdhouses at his home, all of them created by his own hand.

“I think they’re attractive,” he said. “They add to the landscaping, and of course, my wife and I enjoy seeing all the business of the parents taking care of their little ones before and after the eggs hatch.”

The hobby started out innocently enough.

“In all sincerity, we got a little birdhouse that was just decorative for the porch,” he said. “And for eight years, there was a family of birds there. Then I just got more and more interested.”

Building bird houses is also a seasonal hobby for Elkins, who said he spends most of his time in the winter crafting the homes.

“I do most of mine during the winter months when it’s too cold to do other things,” he said.


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