Ballston Spa Gears Up For Its First-Ever Birdhouse Competition

Artist Mark Blech of the town's Black Dog Gallery is spearheading contest for local artists.

Birdhouse Competition
Three of the birdhouses that have already been entered in the competition that are on display at Ballston Spa Public Library. (Mark Blech)

Sure, the Capital Region’s still getting shelled by weekly Nor’easters and chilly temps. But fear not: Springtime is right around the corner, and that means there’ll be loads of chirping birds hither and yon, flitting in and out of the tiny, free Airbnbs—i.e. birdhouses— we set out for them in our backyards. And while the plain, wooden one hanging in your maple tree might be all your neighborhood birds need to get through the spring and summer months, know that there will be some locals who’ll be bringing their birdhouse A-game to the table.

“Growing up in New Rochelle, I learned how to build a birdhouse from my father, and I don’t think I ever stopped enjoying the fun of building birdhouses and then seeing them used by birds,” says Mark Blech, the artist behind Black Dog Gallery and Studio in Ballston Spa. Blech is spearheading the town’s first-ever birdhouse-building competition. The contest is free and open to all local artists, woodworkers and craftspeople; and birdhouse builders have been instructed to bring their creations to the Ballston Spa Library on April 14.

After that, the birdhouses—with the permission of the artists/woodworkers, of course—become the property of the Village of Ballston Spa, and are installed in and around town and on the Tedisco Trail. The decorated birdhouses will be mounted on trees and lampposts throughout Ballston Spa all summer long, including designated areas on Front Street, in Iron Springs and Wiswell Park and on Milton Avenue. At the town’s Birdhouse Festival on April 21, Mayor John Romano and trustees will determine the winners and award prizes provided by local stores and restaurants. Birdhouse Festival attendees will tour the village with score cards and vote on their favorites. In addition to the competition, children from the Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Creative Endeavors and around town will have the opportunity to decorate 150 birdhouses made by Ballston Spa High School’s Wood Technology class with wood donated by Curtis Lumber.

“To see creativity and community pride displayed throughout the village is the intent of the birdhouse competition,” says Blech. “The creativity of not just the adults, but also the dedication of the children in our community makes it so special.” The birdhouses will remain in their installation spots through the fall, at which point they’ll be taken down, and people will have the opportunity to claim them and use them at home. “I think the real goal of the birdhouse competition is to strengthen and celebrate our community spirit and community pride,” says Blech. “I was struck with how everyone looks out for one another in this village and how everyone works together for the common good. That sense of community can’t be taken for granted; we have to work together to remind each other and our visitors of what’s so special about Ballston Spa.”

Blech hopes the competition becomes an annual event. Wondering if you should grab a hammer and some nails and join in in the fun? “Do it,” says Blech. “Go crazy with colors. Think how much fun it will be to join this great community event.”

Sophia Perez
Sophia Perez

Sophia Perez is a California-raised freelance writer currently based in Brooklyn. She visited Saratoga Springs for the first time in the summer of 2016, at the tail-end of a four-month road trip across the United States. She doesn’t like the mineral water, which tastes like egg salad, but she drives up to Saratoga at least once a month to visit friends and eat doughboys.

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