March 6, 2011

Colonial Bird Bottle

Walking around in Williamsburg, Va., I noticed curious clay bottle attached to the sides of houses. Spying a table in a gift shop with lots of these clay bottles, I learn theses replicas are bird bottles, a unique colonial birdhouse!

These unusual birdhouses were apparently quite popular in 18th-century Williamsburg. Fragments have been unearthed throughout the area, and a 1746 inventory and 1752 advertisement provide further evidence. Though it’s tempting to attribute their use to an enthusiasm for bird watching, bird bottles served a more practical purpose: nesting birds made ideal insect control around homes, kitchens, and stables. 

So I bought one and just mounted it on the shed in my backyard. I’m curious to see who moves in. 

The bottle has two holes where a twig can be inserted as an inviting perch. 

Here’s a sketch in my moleskine I did of the shed last summer while I was grilling dinner.