Vermont is a state that's known for its quirks as well as its wildlife, which means that it's no surprise when the two occasionally overlap. On the island of Grand Isle sits a town called South Hero that's home to, well... not all that much, to be frank. What visitors will find are untouched fields, stunning mountains, and lakeside views, and, when the season is right, a farmer's market or two.
Those who don't mind being immersed in nature might find themselves heading toward White's Beach, a residential part of South Hero. Within the swamp of this town, roughly 800 colorful birdhouses line the groves of trees - and there's a very good reason for it. Visitors who explore the swamp may even find a dinosaur or two; mythical things abound in this unusual waterside marsh.
South Hero's Birdhouse Forest
Finding this vibrant forest is the easy part, figuring out how so many birdhouses got there in the first place, well... that's the tricky part. What would otherwise be an ordinary swamp, average and brown in color, is now full of homes for birds, each painted in extraordinarily bold hues. Upon entering this tree grove, it's almost overwhelming how many there are, and nearly every tree seems to house one (no pun intended). For those who are lucky enough to enter the swamp on a good day - or are just incredibly quiet - the sound of birds chirping and the show they put on as they fly from house to house is truly magical.
The birdhouses were created for the local swallows that inhabit the area around and in the swamp. They were built by hand by two neighbors, Jay and Hank, just over two decades prior. What began as a modest addition of 20 birdhouses soon grew to become a swamp-wide project, all in the name of combatting one pesky bug: the mosquito.
One by one, birdhouses were added and it was much to the surprise of everyone when these filled up almost as quickly as they were added. Swallows flocked to the swamp and when they did, it seemed that the mosquito problem quieted down just a bit, as the birds were coming in to eat up all of these buzzing nuisances. It may have started with a practical purpose but now, it has evolved into something far more intricate and alluring than just a solution to a problem. As time went on and more people stumbled across this magical 'forest,' further additions were made to the swamp. Soon enough, miniature dinosaur replicas were seen throughout the trails, only leading to more questions about who was really curating such an atmosphere in this small South Hero Town. According to Atlas Obscura, the owner of the property (it is posted as private) is a talented woodworker and also created the prehistoric reptiles that can be seen in between the birdhouse trees.
Visiting The Birdhouse Forest
The property on which the birdhouse forest sits is private so visitors may find that they're not able to access it entirely. This is not a problem, though, because the forest is easily seen from the roadside, and White's Beach also offers another vantage point through which to see this exceptional work of craftsmanship.
On a sunny spring day or even a quiet day in winter, it's possible to see swallows heading in and out of their houses in search of food. During the summer, it's likely visitors will hear them singing songs early in the morning, and may even have the chance to spot some additional Vermont wildlife, as well. Those visiting may also notice that the birdhouses are all adorned with red roofs, which, according to Only In Your State, was the idea of the men's wives. The proper name for the birdhouse forest is 'Jelly Bean Suites,' which is an adorable name for an abode community belonging solely to the swallows.
- Getting There: Visitors can take West Shore Road in South Hero to reach White's Beach, and the signs posted for the property should be visible. It's worth bearing in mind that the property is private, and visitors should respect the land owner's rights to keep people out - there's plenty to see from the roadside!
- Permits: In order to park on the street, those who are visiting between Memorial Day and September 30th must obtain a permit to park within the vicinity of White'sBeach.
- Itinerary: Plan the whole day and spend some time at the nearby White's Beach, with stunning views of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.