Birds in Bastrop County are now able to take shelter and nest inside specialized homes built and distributed by the Rotary Club of Bastrop County. Residents will be able to see the birdhouses at River Bend Park near downtown Smithville, as well as at Fisherman’s Park in Bastrop.
Norman Jones, a member and the immediate past president of the county chapter of the Rotary Club, conceptualized the project after having installed approximately 50 birdhouses on his 105-acre ranch outside of Smithville. He said he watched the wildlife benefit greatly from his contribution and decided to expand the concept to
parks in the area.
“Public parks are currently underutilized, and we would like them to be better utilized, as well as make them more attractive for both people and wildlife," said Jones. "Making a park better for wildlife in turn makes them better for people.”
The club started by building seven birdhouses at each park, and they come in a variety of sizes, depending on the species they target. The Rotary Club built the birdhouses to specifications set out by bird experts such as the Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Standard birdhouses are 8 feet off the ground, while duck houses are 10 feet high to accommodate the birds’ larger size. The houses are propped up on steel posts, which prevent predators such as cats, snakes and raccoons from accessing the houses, thereby increasing the success rate of these small abodes. The project also has built bat and owl houses, which allow the nocturnal creatures a respite from the daylight.

“Birdhouses will serve the community for years to come, while being low-cost and requiring minimal maintenance," Jones said. "They are an asset for the parks’ longevity and are good for the environment.” As a multi-phase project, Jones hopes that other Rotary clubs and Lions clubs can mimic this idea, and that Smithville can serve as a model for other towns.