Rural Missouri - February 2011 - (Page 23)

L the mood strikes, he nails the parts together and sets aside the finished birdhouse, which then waits for a coat of the sky aurance Beeson probblue paint family members ably had no idea what decided looks the best. he was starting when Every year, the trail gets he helped a handful of extended, even to the cem4-H’ers build birdhouses back etery where Laurance is burin 1962. Members of the Black ied. The main trail started on Oak 4-H Club in Cassville were Highway Y, which runs northlooking for a woodworking east out of Cassville, followproject, and Laurance had the ing Flat Creek. But over the years, the skills to help them. trail expanded to every road extending Soon, bluebird houses were showing from the farm where Laurance and up around farms between Cassville and Alma raised their family. Butterfield. Before long, a trail of boxes “It’s on all the back roads here,” could be found down the farm roads. Alma says. “It doesn’t matter which “Everyone was to make a box,” Laurdirection from this house you go, you ance’s wife, Alma, recalls. “It stayed in are going to see some.” the club for a few years. Our boys grew Neighbors watched with interest up. Then the local kids kept it going as the sky blue houses started popping through the club. Then they abanup every quarter mile along the roads. doned it. That’s when Laurance took it Some asked for boxes at their houses, on as a family project.” and Lloyd always had extras he was Adds her son, Lonnie: “The bluehappy to share. birds were dying out. That may have “By doing that, we got them kind been one reason why we chose this as of scattered around,” Lloyd says. “So a project. Of course, that’s the Missouri we thought, heck, we’ll just fill in the state bird. They weren’t endangered, blank spots. That’s how it branched but they were getting scarce.” out.” Laurance died in 2008, but his legacy The family has taken over bluebird of providing homes for bluebirds lives boxes put out by neighbors as well. on. Today, thanks to the Beeson family, When they see one that has fallen into hundreds of sky blue birdhouses line disrepair, they ask if they can adopt it. the roads around Cassville. Before long, it’s sporting repairs and a Members of the Beeson family new coat of paint. — now in its fourth generation of The bluebird trail has expanded to birdhouse builders — work from fall other states, too. Family members and to spring getting the more than 200 curious visitors to the area have carried houses along their 33-mile bluebird Lloyd’s bluebird houses as far away as trail ready for the next season. Maryland. The work is a tribute to LauBluebirds stay through the winter rance, who loved all birds. this far south, but they tend to hide Laurance was an avid bird-watcher. in the thickets until it’s time to mate. A dairyman, he also ran a small motor Come February, the males select a nestrepair business on the side. But his cusing site and offer the females food. If tomers sometimes had to wait for his she’s interested, she starts building a assistance. nest and a new brood is on its way. “It wasn’t unusual for him to have Key to this is finding a suitable place a sign on his front door that said to nest. Competition from non-native ‘Gone bird-watching,’” Lloyd says. “If species such as starlings and house sparhe decided to go watch birds, he would rows led to a dramatic decline in the hang his sign and go off in the woods species through the 1970s. But thanks with his binoculars. If people wanted to the efforts of bird lovers such as the him to take care of their problems, Beesons, the “cheery-cheery-up” call Above: Just a few members of the extended Beeson family pose in front of the bluebird they would have to wait for him.” and flash of bright blue is again comtrail sign outside of the homeplace where Laurance Beeson first started building blueLonnie recalls how the interest in mon to the state. bird houses. From left are Danielle and her husband, Lonnie; Keaton Schellenberger and bird-watching began. “We had a big Lloyd Beeson took over as the ramhis grandfather, Randy; and Lloyd and his son, Brent. Below: Lloyd makes most of the snow when I was a kid and there was rod of the effort after spending many houses in his workshop. Here, he makes sure this one is ready for the birds’ mating seaa lot of birds out by the barnyard, eatyears working with his father to build son. With more than 200 houses in place, constant repairs and cleaning are required. ing around where the cattle had been. and maintain the many birdhouses. “I I saw a bird out there and had no idea came back from the service and had what it was. At that time we subscribed to Capper’s some time,” says the Barry Electric Cooperative Weekly. They had a little bird book in there that member. “I just got to building was 50 cents. Dad said, ‘Why don’t you write them the houses and cleaning them and tell about the bird and send 50 cents so they out. Then the family just will send you that book.’ That’s what got us started kind of fell in line.” watching the birds.” Laurance and Alma’s The birds still flock to the feeders at the old five sons — Lonnie, homeplace, and bluebirds can be found drinking Lloyd, Randy, Stanley Cassville from the heated water Alma keeps for them in the and Bill — and the • winter. “I see six or seven bluebirds sitting around many grandkids drinking, especially when it’s snowing,” she says. and great-grandkids “They were once almost extinct around here.” provide an army of willing workers to maintain the The Beesons estimate 70 percent of their boxes bluebird trail. Bluebirds are picky nesters. Lloyd says will be occupied each year, judging from the old they will build two nests, one on top of the other, nests they remove at the end of the season. “In the but then the houses must be cleaned out. spring, there’s a lot of bluebirds around here,” Lloyd “It’s got to be done every year. If you don’t clean says. “It’s quite exciting to drive by the boxes and them out, the birds won’t come back,” Lloyd says see the birds have started nesting.” of the effort. “We just turned it into one big family project. Over the years, a lot of family members 700 to 800 birdhouses over the years in his shop You can find the Beeson Family Bluebird Trail on have helped on the trail — aunts, uncles, nieces and north of Cassville. “He’s got quite an operation Facebook, although the birds only send “tweets” from nephews. Anytime anyone wants to come down there,” says Alma. “And it’s all for the birds.” their nests. For more information on bluebirds, including and clean up bluebird boxes or paint them, they are Lloyd builds birdhouses like an assembly line. He plans for houses and information on attracting them, go more than welcome.” sets up his saw and cuts a stack of sides, then switchto www.mdc.mo.gov and search for bluebird. He estimates he has built somewhere between es to another part and runs another batch. When by Jim McCarty jmccarty@ruralmissouri.coop For the birds Bluebird trail a labor of love for Beeson family FEBRUARY 2011 23 http://www.mdc.mo.gov

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2011

Rural Missouri - February 2011
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Life Behind Bars
A Powerful Idea
Mail Bag
Angels Among Us
Out Of The Way Eats
The Store Time Forgot
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
For the Birds
Out With the Old...
World Wide Wood
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Neighbors
Just 4 Kids

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