Nest boxes that feature Ralph Windsor's signature scrawled on the bottom can be found all over central Ohio. The 87-year-old Windsor, who lives at Friendship Village of Dublin, has been building nest boxes for birds for years. Nine boxes recently were installed in Coffman Park to honor his work, establishing a new Eastern bluebird trail.
Nest boxes that feature Ralph Windsor's signature scrawled on the bottom can be found all over central Ohio.
The 87-year-old Windsor, who lives at Friendship Village of Dublin, has been building nest boxes for birds for years. Nine boxes recently were installed in Coffman Park to honor his work, establishing a new Eastern bluebird trail.
"He and I have worked together on bluebird conservation for 20 or 25 years," said Darlene Sillick, former president of Columbus Audubon and board member for the Ohio Wildlife Center.
Windsor said he watched the wren houses mounted around his porch as a child and began building homes for birds as a teen.
"The first house I built was a wren box. When I was a kid, the grocery store saved orange and banana boxes for me," he said. "I used them to make wren boxes."
Windsor still makes wren boxes, but in the past 20 years, he said he's made at least 1,000 bluebird boxes that have gone to friends, Sillick or the Ohio Bluebird Society.
"I got acquainted with Darlene because I built bluebird houses," he said. "I think she kind of needed a guy like me."
And Windsor is right. Sillick said Windsor's help building bluebird boxes over the years inspired her to seek land from Dublin to establish a bluebird trail in his honor.
"I had the idea last fall because of all he's done," she said.
The bluebird trail, located in Coffman Park near the closed road at Post Road and Emerald Parkway, was set up with the help of Windsor's family.
Windsor has four daughters, including Dublin resident Vicki Moran. She said she and her siblings initially wanted to purchase lumber for nest boxes for Windsor to build, but once Sillick got involved the bluebird trail came up.
"Darlene, because she's known dad for so long, got the idea," Moran said. "Since she's been working in the Dublin area with the boxes, she got land for a trail for dad. We weren't seeking a trail for dad initially, it just happened that way."
The family supplied lumber, helped set up the boxes on a recent sunny Saturday and will monitor the trail along with Windsor's help.
"I'm getting into it," Moran said. "Two of us live in the area. I have a sister in Clintonville. Every Sunday one of us is with dad, so we'll take him over there to look at boxes."
Moran said the family had to rush a little to get the boxes installed by March when bluebirds return to the area, but she's pleased with the land.
"The city isn't doing mowing there, they're leaving it grassy," Moran said. "The land slopes down to the creek, so it's a natural environment. It's good property for the project."
In the meantime, Windsor will keep himself occupied with building more nest boxes in his corner of the workshop at Friendship Village, where he keeps tools he's accumulated over the years.
Windsor's workbench is covered with pieces of nest boxes waiting to be assembled. He said it normally takes him about an hour to put one together.
"I can come in here whenever I have free time," he said.
Sillick will continue to take the boxes made by Windsor and put them up, in an effort to increase species natural to the central Ohio area.
"He writes his name on the bottom of every box and writes the date," Sillick said. "There are boxes all over central Ohio with Ralph's name on them."