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A tribute to The Birdhouse Man

Madrona Street residents honor Bob Bryan and the impact he's had on their neighborhood


REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Sally Holstein (from left) and Anne Jaeger share the memory book they helped create with Bob Bryan, who built 53 birdhouses for the residents of Madrona Street. Some of the structures are ornate, others more simple. But all have brought a sense of community to the neighborhood.REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - One of the 53 birdhouses built by Bob Bryan for his Madrona Street neighborsWhen Bob Bryan recently became ill, his neighbors on Madrona Street in Lake Oswego knew they had to do something to show how they felt about him. After all, he had done so much for them.

Bryan, who has been a resident of the street for 47 years, decided five years ago to make birdhouses for his neighbors. And so, accompanied by his tubby but trusty dog Daisy, he did just that — 53 of them, delivered up and down the block from the back of his scooter.

Recipients were overwhelmed. After all, nobody does that. Except Bob Bryan, who is quite humble about his noble gesture.

“I just like building birdhouses,” he says. “I had the wood and the tools, so I did it. I also painted them.”

REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - One of the 53 birdhouses built by Bob Bryan for his Madrona Street neighborsAltogether, Bryan has built 300 birdhouses for family and friends across the country. Some of the structures are quite ornate; others are more simple, suitable for birds just starting families of their own. And if he really likes you, you just might get more than one birdhouse.

Neighbor Sally Holstein has Bryan birdhouses lined up on her fence, and Anne Jaeger has three of them on a bench at her home. Her favorite, Jaeger says, is the tiny birdhouse that she calls the Hummingbird House.

“People love them,” says Bryan’s daughter, Kim Litchfield. “They’re thrilled to get them.”

Holstein agrees.

“They’re very special,” she says. “They’re very Oregon-ish.”

For Bryan’s generosity, his neighbors have given him the nickname of “Mayor Bob.” And so when they learned recently that the 84-year-old had entered hospice care, they knew they had to return the kindness he’s shown to them.

With a simple exchange between a couple of friends, they had the perfect solution.

REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - One of the 53 birdhouses built by Bob Bryan for his Madrona Street neighbors“I told Anne, ‘I want to do something nice for Bob,’” Holstein says. To which Jaeger replied, “Why don’t we make a book?”

Jaeger took the photos, Holstein collected quotes from neighbors and the result was “Bob’s Birdhouse Book,” filled with all the birdhouses that Bryan had built for the residents of Madrona Street.

Neighbors’ comments were heartfelt. “You and your birdhouse bring me joy,” one wrote to Bryan. “These are birdhouses made from the heart,” said another.

“You are special and creative,” a grateful recipient said. “You made an impression on us.”

In the years to come, his neighbors said, the birdhouses he crafted will serve as a tribute to Bryan and a reminder of the sense of community he brought to Madrona Street.

Naturally, that thought brought a smile to Bryan’s face when Holstein and Jaeger delivered the book to him.

“Oh man,” he says, “I thought it was beautiful and great!” And with a nod toward his admirers, he adds, “I’ve got some sweethearts on this block.”

His neighbors might say they very same thing about him.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..