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Flying Free

By SAUNDRA MCBREARTY, Outreach and Volunteer Specialist
Preservation Parks applauds our dedicated volunteer nest box monitors who completed a successful 2017 season. Volunteers Tom and Rosemary Domin, Dean Hard, Scott Lewis, Randy Morrison, David Zimmerman, Judy Houston and Brink Kline monitor 98 nest boxes and 48 purple martin gourds in six parks. This year, 127 eastern bluebirds, 291 tree swallows, 91 purple martins, 5 Carolina chickadees and 3 house wrens successfully left their nest boxes.
Each of our monitors adopts a group of nest boxes within a specific park and checks them weekly from April through August, helping to ensure that valuable native birds have young who fledge the nest. Monitors help protect these birds from animals that prey upon them. Raccoons, snakes, squirrels, mice, wasps, ants, and even other birds are serious competitors.
Why does Preservation Parks provide nest boxes? Eastern bluebirds, tree swallows and purple martins are important insect-eaters who play a vital role in the food chain, a role which park visitors can appreciate as they enjoy a relatively insect-free hike in the parks. Human development has left native cavity-nesting birds with fewer natural places to raise young. Invasive birds, such as the European starling and the house sparrow, compete with native species for use of the remaining natural cavities. And while other bird species can hide their nests in foliage or grassy meadows, bluebirds and tree swallows require wooden holes, and purple martins prefer gourds to nest inside. We provide extra habitat to ensure their continued survival.
Since 2010, Preservation Parks volunteers have helped more than 2,000 native birds fledge the nest, including 654 eastern bluebirds, 1,848 tree swallows, 226 purple martins, 106 house wrens, and 49 Carolina chickadees.
We thank our nest box monitors for volunteering and making sure everyone gets to enjoy the beautiful feathered friends who make our parks their home. If you are interested in monitoring a nest box trail in the parks contact for information.

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