For the Love of Birds: Onxley spends spare time making houses for his feathered friends

Published 11:49 am Thursday, August 4, 2022

Enchanting. That’s a word that comes to mind when stepping into the front yard of Jim and Cheryl Onxley at 2912 Ernest St. Look in any direction and one sees white picket fences, plants or colorful, hand-crafted birdhouses.

Jim Onxley caters to area birds. He sets out seed for them twice a day and makes houses for them to nest in. There are dozens of houses, and no two are alike. There used to be more.

“What you see here is only half of what I had before the hurricane,” he said. “A lot of them got destroyed.”

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When Onxley retired from Dow Chemical in Texas 15 years ago, he and his wife eventually made the decision to move to Lake Charles to be closer to family. When they bought the house on Ernest Street seven years ago, there was an old open-air barn structure Onxley was told he would probably want to tear down. But Onxley didn’t tear it down. He uses it as a space to construct his colorful birdhouses.

The houses are not precision works. They are quirky, unique assemblages put together however Onxley feels like making them.

The colors vary.

“For paint, I buy whatever is on sale at Lowe’s,” he said.

He does not sell the houses, but often gives them away.

The Onxleys share their home with two cats, Jimbo and Little Bit, and two dogs, Sugar and Lucy.

The bigger dog, Lucy, enjoys romping around the yard with Onxley.

“We got her from the pound when she was just a puppy, “ said Onxley. “She’s a Lab and something else.”

In addition to feeding birds, Onxley used to feed lots of squirrels too, but when Lucy came along, that ended.

“She would run after them and try to hurt them so I stopped,” he said.

One of the Onxley home’s screen doors has a golf ball door knob. That’s because in addition to making bird houses, Onxley also likes to play golf. This hobby has resulted in him having a large collection of stray golf balls. He incorporates these balls into some of his birdhouse designs and yard art.