Meet the family behind Joplin’s bird tree

A little more than a year after the May 22, 2011 tornado one of the few trees remaining in the area of 20th Street suddenly became decorated with paint and bird feeders.

The former president of Ozark Gateway Audubon Society, Vicki Cassady, asks the question many people have had since then:

“Who is this who did this wonderful thing to put these bird nests and bird houses, bird feeders in this tree?” Cassady says. “It’s just remarkable.”

“There are no houses here to usually put out the bird feed,” says Joplin resident Eldon Howery. “So I searched and searched for a tree that I could find that I could put the bird feeders around it and decorate it, and that’s when I spotted this tree and went to Burt Reality and asked him if I could use that tree.”

Eldon and Judy Howery decided to make the home for birds that lost their home in late August-Early September of 2012. But, Eldon says it was a slow start.

“When we first started this project we thought ‘well – useless, nothing coming,'” Eldon says. “But in about two or three weeks here they come and they’ve been here ever since.”

Things have changed since then, and fortunately other volunteers have stepped up to help out.

“Believe it or not these birds know my pickup truck when I pull up – they know food is coming,” says Eldon. “We put up a sign saying ‘Help feed the birds’ and the nice part about it is helping really helps, because we put out 275 pounds of wild bird feed, 50 pounds of sunflower seed and about 40 seed cakes a month.”

The former president of the area Audubon Society says it’s important for everyone to help bring birds back to Joplin.

“If you provide food, water and shelter, that’s just what they need, so what he has done with his tree right here has certainly helped,” says Cassady. “If you just put water out and pans in your yard, have bird baths and clean them regularly, that’s great.”

Eldon says since last year they have fed the birds hundreds of pounds of bird seed and hopes the birds know that they’ll always have a home in Joplin.