Chirping away at the time

Freshman creates birdhouses for local park while social distancing


Photo courtesy of Erica Napierala

Freshman Erica Napierala hangs her birdhouse creation in a local park. After painting all day Napierala headed to the park to put up her hand-painted homes for feathered friends to perch on. “Some of the houses have patterns and others have themes,” Napierala said. “We are hoping that our colorful birdhouses can make people’s walks more enjoyable.”

Kaitlin Reynolds, Staff Reporter

Constructing the walls of a future house to a feathered friend and painting the exterior with the touches to make a home is the perfect activity for one Millard West student who spends her time during social distancing assembling an escape from the outdoors, for birds that is. 

Freshman Erica Napierala has spent the first part of the school closure and social distancing doing something besides binge-watching her favorite show or having an endless movie marathon. Unlike many others during this time, Erica has taken this opportunity to find a new hobby: making birdhouses. 

The idea to create dwellings for the birds of Omaha originally stemmed from a large birdhouse that Erica’s grandma gave her family. Erica’s youngest sister was the first to start making birdhouses for an art project. Later her dad constructed a few birdhouses to be hung up and when the quarantine started they began to make more small houses to put up in the park.

“We are hoping that our colorful birdhouses can make people’s walks more enjoyable,” Erica said. “I have noticed a lot of people stopping and checking them out, and some will smile at us if they catch us hanging them up.”

Painted with an assortment of vibrant colors, the houses are visible from the bridge over the stream that connects the parking lot to the soccer fields and playground structure in the park off of 168th and Harrison. Their bright colors stand out to pedestrians walking by and the birds who nest in them. The birdhouses have attracted several different types of birds and have created the perfect environment for bird watchers. Fluttering at eye level the creatures can be observed in their natural habitats of wooded areas and found perched in and on Erica’s creations.

“I like when I am going on a run or a bike ride through the park that I am able to see some cute houses hanging in the trees,” junior Jenna Reynolds said. “It has brought a lot of joy to me and  all of the people I have seen pass them in the park.”

Erica did not however manage this feat on her own. Her entire family pitched in to create the structures and hang them in trees for the public eye to see. Each was decorated with different themes and colors.

“We have been doing lots of crafts during the quarantine and this is something creative and fun we all enjoy doing together as a family,” Erica’s mom Nicole Napierala said. “I think that the birdhouses spread a little cheer to the people who walk through our park all the time.”

The collection of birdhouses were overwhelming for just one small suburban backyard, so the Napieralas made the decision to hang them in the local park where they could be enjoyed by many people, not just their family. There has been a significant increase in the foot traffic of parks because of the combination of nice weather and businesses being closed during this time.

“When social distancing started, we noticed that more people were getting out to walk through the park,” Erica said. “We have encouraged our neighbors to add to the birdhouse village, hoping it will give them something fun to do.”

Not only has Erica found a new hobby to entertain her during social distancing, but she has also brought light to others who stroll through the park and has encouraged those around her to follow in her footsteps and create birdhouses for the community to enjoy.