A master birdhouse builder

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 2:53 PM CST
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HOBART, Wis. (WBAY) - Birds around Northeast Wisconsin may soon have some green and gold homes in which to fly.

Like those birds, a Hobart man’s hobby has really taken flight.

After serving in Vietnam, and spending 40 years as a carpenter, Merle Retzlaff knew he needed something to keep himself busy.

“People always say they want to retire, but if you retire with nothing, you lose all your meaning in life, nobody cares if you get up in the morning and I don’t really want to get a second job, I can if I want but I’d rather do something that I enjoy,” says Retzlaff.

So instead of building homes, he turned to birdhouses, but not your ordinary ones.

“I thought I want to do something different, not just a square one with a roof, and I just wanted to make crazy designs that people might like them and somehow they took off,” says Retzlaff.

Over the past two years, Retzlaff guesses he’s built close to 200 birdhouses, which he sells for $85.

“Especially around Christmastime because that’s when people buy them for old people like us,” says Retzlaff with a smile.

Each one takes Retzlaff two to three days to complete, which includes him burning and wire brushing the wood, and applying a light coat of stain and three coats of varnish.

And lately, during the Packer Super Bowl run, he’s shifted to green and gold birdhouses.

“I figured well that might sell because of all the fans in town you know, so I thought well, let’s give that a shot,” says Retzlaff.

It’s no surprise they’re in high demand.

But that doesn’t mean Retzlaff has plans to pick up his pace too much.

“Here’s the good thing, see when you do it at home you can come down, work a little bit, then if you want to go shopping, you go shopping, if you want to go up, take a nap, you take a nap, I like naps, every old guy does,” says Retzlaff with a chuckle.

For more information on Retzlaff’s birdhouses and how to order one, visit

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