This article was written by Jonathan Dame, Daily News Staff on August 3, 2017.
SUDBURY – It took five scouts three hours.
They dug a cylindrical hole two feet deep. They implanted and firmed a metal pole, first with rope and ultimately with concrete, and dirt, and they planted three Miss Ruby butterfly bushes in a half-circle around the perimeter.
Hopefully, a family of purple martin swallows will one day appreciate their labor. Hopkinton’s Austin Marques, 16, and four fellow Boy Scouts installed a birdhouse in front of Orchard Hill Assisted Living in Sudbury on Thursday.
Nearly two dozen seniors ate palmed-sized vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and drank Stars and Stripes strawberry lemonade as the scouts hoisted the birdhouse 12 feet into the air.
“I can hardly wait!” said 89-year-old Orchard Hill resident Norma Gorman. “I’m praying to see a bird, just one even, to go in there. I think that’s awesome, don’t you?”
“I’ve got my camera in here,” she said. “I’m going to watch that like a hawk to make sure they don’t move in without me watching.”
Marques installed the birdhouse as his Eagle Scout project. After Thursday’s event, he still needs to fill out paperwork, finish his personal fitness badge, and make a presentation to a Scout review board.
In June, Marques spent a day painting different, smaller birdhouses with Orchard Hill residents, for an art installation. He later returned and gave a presentation about his project and the bird he hopes it will attract: purple martins.
The birdhouse has three decks and two sides, seemingly able to house up to 18 birds. “That’s a mini-manse,” Gorman said. The birdhouse sat in the Marques family’s living room for two weeks as they slowly assembled it.
Orchard Hill resident John Edgar, 86, formerly of Stow, was curious how much the birdhouse weighed.
“I asked him, I said, ’How heavy is that?” Edgar said. “And he said, ‘It’s only five pounds.’ I couldn’t believe it! Of course, it’s all aluminum. Yeah, very interesting.”
Dan Marques, Austin’s dad, became an Eagle Scout himself in 1986, after he cleared a path and built a bridge over a small stream near Lake Whitehall in Hopkinton. He enrolled his son in cub scouts at age 7.
“It’s impressive to see his leadership with directing his peers, which is always a difficult thing to do,” Dan Marques said. “It’s gratifying for me to see him pull it all together.”
On Thursday, Austin Marques had the help of scouts Cameron Marques, 13, and Carter Marques, 12, of Shrewsbury, and Ethan Kramer, 16, and Aiden Scannevin, 14, of Hopkinton.
“This one seemed interesting because it was a little bit different,” Austin Marques said of his Eagle Scout project. “And it really helps senior citizens, it really impacts them more.”
Orchard Hill resident Rhoda Spangler, 79, is looking forward to spring 2018.
“I hope to see the birds, I really do,” Spangler said. “And the butterfly bushes, maybe we’ll see some butterflies too. It will be even nicer.”