We were very excited to be written up in Via Magazine, Sept/Oct 2015:
Pg. 16, Souvenir
"A Hanging Hideaway. Bird lovers are atwitter over Given Back Bird Houses. Visit the workshop and store in Florence, Ore., to watch avian homes being
constructed using fallen branches, living moss, and found bark, then take home your own unique nest."
We got a wonderful write up in Coast Explorer Magazine, summer 2015:
"Given Back Bird Houses
Combining science with art, Given Back Bird Houses is a working museum (with 25 cent admission) that serves as gift shop, workshop, and wonderland. Here, in the indoor forest, Amen and Maria Fisher, a husband and wife team, create handmade, natural bird house habitats. These one-of-a-kind pieces are built from nature’s debris: deadwood, driftwood, branches, bark and moss. They are carefully crafted to attract and house specific birds, from chickadees to finches, robins, bats, owls and more. With an emphasis on honoring the natural world, Given Back creatively blends education with engagement. 1300 Bay Street, (541) 590-9108" Article by Drew Myron
Forests Now and Forever in Crow, OR: we donated a set of 1 Douglas Fir Chalet Style bird house and 1 wild Cherry wood pollinator for their September 2015 fundraising Auction.
School Garden in Albany, OR: We donated a set of Pollinator houses to their newly planted school garden in March
April 2015: Donation sent to Creswell, Oregon... 1 Alpine Bird House and 1 Pollinator House in a matching drifted Douglas Fir.
Florence Rotary Club in Florence, OR: 1 Flat Top Bird House donation to this year's charity
fundraiser in February, 2015.
**We got a great write-up in Ethos Magazine out of Eugene, Oregon. The article is beautifully written, and the topic is
engaging. It's the Spring 2014 issue, with an article entitled "Folk of Florence". Link here:
Here is our Given Back Open Nester made from all the elements of a healthy mixed forest. The platform for the nest gives our wild birds shelter and protection from predator birds, and yet surrounds them in a natural setting.
This item was donated in February 2014 to the annual Valentine's Day Florence Area Humane Society Fundraiser. They enjoyed a large audience that evening, and sold a great number of raffle tickets, as usual!
Our Given Back Pollinator House made from forest Spruce, with driftwood accents and live moss. This was a January donation to the February fundraiser for Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis Oregon. The Center raised over $2,000 in a successful and enjoyable evening!
We were invited to participate in a weekend fundraiser for the Eugene Symphony Guild on June 8th & 9th, 2013. We did a full set up in one of the special gardens featured on this years tour. A wonderful success, we donated almost $400 from our sales that weekend straight to the Guild. It was a lovely event, with beautiful weather and the day was speckled with Hummingbirds in the garden.
This gorgeous 24" tall Drifted Cedar Alpine was a donation for the Empty Bowls Fundraiser held at the Florence Events Center the first weekend in December 2013. It was part of the silent auction that benefited the Florence Food Share. We are proud to be an ongoing part of keeping the shelves stocked at our local food bank.
This wild cherry Alpine bird house was donated to the 24th Annual Chocolate Fantasy fundraiser for The Arts Center in Corvallis, Oregon. The Arts Center is dedicated to integrating the arts into community life through dynamic collaborations, innovative outreach programs, diverse exhibitions and through creative educational opportunities. The event took place on March 1st, 2013 in appreciation of their 50th Anniversary this year. Find out more information at www.theartscenter.net
Welcome, Summer 2013!
This is our latest donation to Historic Old Town Florence. It is our own original design, self-supporting tree stand, topped by a Douglas Fir Alpine bird house. This donation Welcomes tourists & visitors to the Bay Street area as they walk from the parking lots under the famous Siuslaw Bridge, to the shopping and dining of Old Town.
** Update Winter 2013: We have upgraded this bird house to a premium example of our high end Chalet made out of Douglas Fir and hand rubbed with pure beeswax and Tung oil. Photo coming soon.**
On July 28th, 2013, we were honored to be a part of the official Dedication Ceremony of the Given Back PoeTree: a public art piece installed at the
CoHo Ecovillage, located at 1975 SE Crystal Lake Drive in Corvallis, Oregon. The PoeTree was commissioned by resident Colleen Dyrud, for the purpose of sharing poetry with the larger Corvallis community. Colleen highlights a special poem each week, by putting it in the frame on the PoeTree, and then catalogs it in the community center at the village.
We designed the PoeTree to position the poems about 3 ft off the ground. This allows everyone, including children and people who use wheelchairs, to read the beautiful words of each week's poet. There are 2 working bird houses atop the text, one facing the road, and one facing in. The roof is made to look like a heart from either way, as you are coming down the street.
We have created a one of a kind standing bird house for the October auction benefitting our Florence Area Humane Society. It was a big hit at the Wine & Chocolate Gala Benefit on Saturday October 6th, 2012, at the Florence Events Center.
We have heard back from the winning bidder that there were indeed bird residents this, it's first spring out, 2013!
More photos below.
This gorgeous Cherry wood Alpine was donated for a fundraiser auction in July, up in Boring, OR, benefitting the USS Ranger Foundation. It was a Beer & Wine tasting event that will raise money to help create a Portland museum out of a former aircraft carrier. Fun for a good cause!
This beautiful Chalet was built for a R.S.V.P (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) fundraiser auction. On July 8th, RSVP held a silent auction at the Albany, OR, Senior Center with a BBQ with Matt Bennett, a well-known chef here in Oregon who has twice been nominated for the James Beard award.
This house was donated to the Garden by the Bridge in Historic Old Town Florence. It is a small Chalet, and a much needed addition of wild bird habitat. We've heard from many town folk about the successful broods in this house throughout the spring to mid summer 2012 & again two broods in April & May 2013 :)
This large Chalet was photographed by the newspaper when it was donated to the main park in Old Town Florence. It is a much needed addition of wild bird habitat to a beautiful garden on the Siuslaw River, right in the heart of the historic district. It is confirmed that our native song birds are currently nesting here again in 2013.
This Given Back end-piece bird house was donated to the third garden in our Historic Old Town District. It did house a successful Chickadee family with at least one confirmed brood, possibly more.
In donating to all three gardens, our hope is to encourage our songbird populations to be plentiful in all areas, just as they used to be historically. The re-intorduction of their habitat should lead to increased numbers in future years, and with that, come healthier trees and plants. Additionally, this will fill the historic district again with the musical song of little birds, just as it should be.
This double condo was a donation to our Florence Area Humane Society's raffle in February 2012. The fun part is, that after many ticket sales, it was won by a lovely couple we know who had been nothing but supportive of our endeavors from day 1. They are constantly volunteering their time and energy to our area's pets in need, and we happen to think it's a wonderfully fitting win.
Update: There were chickadee residents in this condo in 2012 & again in 2013!
Natural habitat birdhouses
Made to resemble cavities in dead trees, creations by Florence couple attract a high percentage of feathered friends.
By Larry Bacon
FOR SPECIAL PUBLICATIONS
Published: Sept 2012
It’s the occupancy rate for their creations that makes coastal homebuilders Amen and Maria Fisher proud. An 80-percent rate is remarkable in their business.
Which is literally for the birds.
Amen and Maria, who moved to Florence about three years ago from the New York area, have established a thriving business in building birdhouses. Not just any birdhouses, mind you, but the kind that you might see in storybooks built by woodland nymphs and gnomes. Amen (pronounced A-mun) hollows out living space for the avian residents in pieces of dead tree trunks or branches found on the forest floor. He cuts a small hole for the entrance.
Then the couple decorate the basic structure with bird-friendly elements such as spruce cones, live moss, small sticks and pieces of bark. Hang the house from a branch and it’s move-in ready for small songbirds like chickadees, wrens and nuthatches.
Occupancy rates soar
The whole idea of the couple’s enterprise, which they call “Given Back Bird Houses,” has been to build homes that birds actually will want to live in, the Fishers say. They believe they have achieved that. The 80-percent occupancy estimate is based on reports from buyers who say it usually doesn’t take long for birds to move in.
That was the case with the first birdhouse Amen built, he says.
He and Maria live on a wooded property in the Glenada area south of Florence. When they first arrived, they found it had some birdhouses that were unoccupied. The two could hear songbirds in the forest, but none came to the birdhouses.
Maria remembers it was Amen’s idea to try to build something like the cavities in dead trees where the birds normally built their nests.
After Amen finished his first birdhouse, he put it on the ground outside his shop for a moment.
He said when he came back he found it had already caught the attention of some birds.
“Little chickadees had fluff in their beaks and were trying to get in,” he says. Amen, 38, and Maria, 35, had moved across the country to Florence in the waning months of 2009 knowing only that it was the kind of natural and beautiful place they wanted to live.
But they had no plans for starting a business.
Amen found work as a surveyor. Maria, a painter who studied at the New York Academy of the Arts, was selling some art. Amen is a poet, and has written a couple of poetry books.
But the birdhouses took over their lives.
The Fishers both love things natural, especially their songbird neighbors. They see creating homes for the birds out of materials they find in the forest and on the beach as a way of “giving back” to nature, hence the “Given Back’ name of their business.
Maria doesn’t paint as much these days. “My creativity is coming out in the birdhouses,” she said.
Indeed, the Fishers say that some people buy the houses strictly as artwork and end up putting them on the mantle rather than outdoors.
Birdhouse sales began in the summer of 2010, several months after Amen built the first one for the chickadee family.
Sales went so well that in the spring of 2011 the Fishers decided to work at it full time.
No margin for error
Amen estimates that so far they have crafted 1,800 birdhouses in the small shed behind their home. They believe their approach to building birdhouses specifically designed for the birds that will live in them is unique.
They studied bird nests in the wild. They researched scientific literature. And they believe the fact that most of their houses end up occupied is testimony from the birds that the designs are on the right track.
For example, the Fishers use only dead wood.
“Birds don’t make homes in sapwood,” Amen said. “That’s why milled lumber is not really good for making birdhouses. It’s not what birds want.”
The holes providing the entrance to the house must be small enough to keep out predators like jays and crows, Amen says, and for safety purposes must be some distance above the cavity where the birds build their nest.
The dimensions of the cavity, he says, mimic those of nesting spots favored by birds in the wild. The spruce cones decorating their birdhouses provide seeds for food. The cones, sticks and live moss attract insects for food, he notes, and the moss also makes good nesting material.
Bark pieces are not only decorative but provide protective camouflage.
“We’re the first people we have ever heard of doing this,” Maria says. Others have tried to copy their designs, Maria allows, but she knows of none who have made the houses as attractive to birds.
The couple try to turn out 15 to 20 houses a week. Smaller ones sell for $25, and prices range up to $125 for a “double condo” with four separate nesting spaces. The Fishers also make houses with larger dimensions for bluebirds as well as open-nesting structures for birds like robins, finches andhummingbirds.
Part of the year, they sell their work from a garden on Florence’s Bay Street just east of the Siuslaw River Bridge. They expect to be there on weekends this fall through October, and perhaps longer.
The Fishers provide information and accept orders online at www.givenbackbirdhouses.com, and they also provide houses for a few retailers in Oregon and two other states.
The couple find their business both rewarding and satisfying in a number of ways, and have no plans — for now — to expand their operations.
“We’re very happy,” Maria says. “I feel like we finally have a purpose.”
Writer Larry Bacon can be contacted at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2012 — The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA
We made front page news this winter with our donations to Historic Old Town Florence! View the actual article in the Siuslaw News archives here. The following is the article re-printed:
"New homes in Old Town"
Posted: Friday, Feb 3rd, 2012
photo by Theresa Baer/Siuslaw News
A new house is installed in Old Town Thursday, high in the trees and completely blending in with its surroundings. Amen Fisher, who, with wife Maria, designs and builds Given Back Bird Houses, hung the driftwood, maple and manzanita structure in Old Town Park. He has installed other custom bird houses in the yards by UR Worth It, the Kyle Building and the Shed. Amen and Maria study bird types and their preferred habitats to design houses made of all- natural materials that will be ideal for the birds, and each house is signed, dated and numbered by the couple. To learn more about the artists’ work, go online to www.GivenBackBirdHouses.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Crafts on the Coast Spotlights Imagination
Given Back Bird House Makers
Give Back To The Florence Community!
Crafts on the Coast 14th Annual Spring Arts & Crafts Festival will
be held during Memorial Weekend, Saturday, May 28, from 10-5 and
Sunday, May 29, from 9-4. The event takes place inside the Yachats
Commons Building, a charming, refurbished elementary school on the
corner of Highway 101 and 4th St. in Yachats, Oregon. Admission is free.
Nearly 70 exhibitors of all kinds of crafts, fine art, and gourmet food
will be participating. Amen and Maria Fisher are among the fine artisans
selected by the jury.
SPOTLIGHT ON IMAGINATION
Full time Florence residents Amen & Maria Fisher are creating
Given Back Bird Houses and in the process they are giving back to the
Amen is a lifelong word worker and a career land surveyor. Maria
is a classically trained artist with a Masters Degree from the New York
Academy of Art in Manhattan. They have been a couple for seven years
and been married for three. Both are nature lovers with a soft spot
They came to Florence from New York, attracted foremost by the
beauty and the opportunity for living close to nature. Having birds in their
own backyard, they decided to create birdhouses out of the deadwood
that birds are attracted to naturally. Soon they started creating more of
them and Given Back Bird Houses was born.
Amen and Maria have a strong commitment to their town and each
of their bird houses has the words "Made in Florence, Oregon" on them.
While the houses are made from locally found deadwood,
some man made elements are needed in their construction including
the highest quality water-proof wood glue, construction grade tie wire
and staples. These products are all purchased in Florence and only
from shops owned by residents, thus this couple is helping to
sustain the local wildlife and the local economy.
Together they start by collecting deadwood and driftwood pieces.
While not unbalancing any one ecosystem, they carefully take only what
they need to create one-of-a-kind houses. They hollow out each piece of
wood specifically to the dimensions needed to best fit certain types of song
birds like nuthatches, chickadees and wrens. Next, they attach
forest and beach mosses with fallen branches to each one to attract the
birds and provide them with supplies for their nest inside. Finally, and
most importantly, these tiny houses are hung in your yard and Given
Back to the birds.
You can meet Amen and Maria Fisher at Crafts on the Coast 14th
Annual Spring Arts & Crafts Festival on Saturday, May 28, from 10-5 and on
Sunday, May 29, from 9-4 inside the Yachats Commons Building,
on the corner of Highway 101 and 4th St. in Yachats, Oregon.
Admission is free to this family-friendly event. For more information,
please call 541-547-4664.