BluebirdersBluebirder Jack Finch (1917-2006)

Bluebirder Jack Finch (1917-2006)

Jack Finch. Photo by Fred Benson
Jack Finch. Possibly taken around 2005, age age 88. Photo by Fred Benson

Jack R. Finch, a farmer of Bailey, North Carolina, began making specially designed bluebird houses in 1973. He organized the non-profit bluebird conservation organization “Homes for Bluebirds, Inc.” “The Birdman of Bailey,” born on November 5, 1917, passed away on November 9, 2006 at the age of 89.

Finch said “he was working on the family farm in 1972 when he realized one of his sons did not recognize the bird’s song. Within days, they were building bluebird boxes.” (Source: The News & Observer, Jerry Allegood, 11/11/06)

The organization built and erected more than 2,000 boxes in 70 locations in North and South Carolina. Finch designed several original styles of boxes. (Source: Zeleny, forward to Dion’s The Return of the Bluebird). The houses were inexpensive but durable, and easy to open. By the mid 1990’s, they had assembled and distributed more than 60,000 nestboxes. (The News & Observer)

Jack Finch and Keith Kridler. Photo provided by Kridler.
Jack Finch and Keith Kridler. Notice one of Finch’s nestboxes on the right.

“Finch’s son Dan said his father was a pragmatic naturalist. He would build four or five houses with different designs and watch to see which ones the birds preferred. To develop snake guards, Finch built a huge snake pit and filled it with black snakes and corn snakes to observe their behavior. If he hit a problem, he would go to the nth degree to solve it,” he said.” (The News & Observer)

A recent note on the bluebird_L about the late Jack Finch brought a thank you from son Dan, who shared a touching remembrance.

Jack Finch. Photo by Keith Kridler
Jack Finch checking an experimental Great Crested Flycatcher nestbox attached to a Paulownia tree on his plantation. Photo by Keith Kridler, who noted that the “years bent over work benches and planting blueberry cuttings in beds made a permanent bend in Jack.” Photo by Keith Kridler

“On the day of Mr. Bluebird’s funeral, his son Kelly went out at dawn’s early light and erected a bluebird box beside Mr. Finch’s tombstone. Only hours later, before the grave was dug, Dan’s wife, Amy, went by the cemetery and saw three bluebirds perched on the stone and two in the house. That was in November. A week ago, four baby blues fledged from the nest. Obviously, his eye is not only on the sparrow.”

Dan Finch, Jack’s son, and now head of the bluebird organization founded by his father, owns the property that contains an inactive cemetery. The advantage of putting the sign there, which is adjacent to Rt. 581 and the Finch Nursery where Homes for Bluebirds, Inc. is housed, is that land with cemeteries is sacred and will not be disturbed in the future.

Note from Bet: My own mother’s first nestbox (in Wilmington, NC) was made by homes for Bluebirds, Inc.

More Information & Resources:

Ron Kingston
Ron Kingston attends the dedication of Jack Finch’s Memorial Sign in North Carolina. Former NCBS President Chuck Bliss headed up the effort to purchase and place a North Carolina Memorial Sign in memory of this man who was a friend to the bluebirds and bluebirders alike. Chuck Bliss and Helen Munro matched contributions dollar for dollar. Contributors will be listed in the November 2009 newsletter. Ron died in 2023.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
– from “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” lyrics by E.Y. Harburg


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