The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

By Gerald E. McLeod, November 23, 2012, Columns

Burt's Birdhouses in Carmine elevates the common avian domicile to an art form. These mansions-on-a-pole are so good at attracting winged residents that a family of Carolina bluebirds moved into a couple of the model homes.

Frank Burt and his son, Chris, have been selling the birdhouses made of old barn wood, cedar mostly, alongside U.S. 290 between Austin and Houston for the last four years. "It's a hobby that's gone out of control," Frank, a retired bricklayer who helped construct a long list of buildings in Austin, says.

The designs just come to Frank, depending on what parts he has, like pieces of fencing, door knobs, and silverware. He's made a covered-bridge bird feeder, an Aggie barn, owl boxes, a beautiful six-story purple martin condo, and hundreds of others. Frank and Chris have their individual designs, and no two birdhouses are exactly alike.

"So a guy drives into the parking lot one day," Frank begins the story. "And he yells out the window at me, 'Is this Carmine?'"

Frank says: "Well, mister, I certainly hope so. You're driving it."

Burt's Birdhouses in Carmine is open Thursday through Sunday from 8am to 5pm. You can't miss them on the south side of U.S. 290 on the east side of town. You'll have to go get your birdhouse because they don't ship. For a custom order, call the boys at 979/278-3880.

1,112th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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