I have a strong desire to combine my drive or passion for bluebirds with engaging youth to set up bluebird trails or housing to help a variety of secondary cavity nesters.

To define:  Passion is an intense emotion, a compelling enthusiasm or desire for something. Conservation is the action of conserving something. It is preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife or birds. My goal is to teach compassion, to get kids outside, and to have them be inquisitive and care about something bigger than they are. What started as a box in my own backyard has grown into something rather contagious!

I write grants to acquire funding and sometimes I to find creative ways to help youth to put up nestboxes for our cavity nesting birds. This past spring, I was enjoying a wonderful May migration day at Magee Marsh when I ran into an old friend who was bragging about his worldly birding travels sitting in first class.

My wheels started turning as I listened to him — and I could not help but think about a conservation project that I wanted to launch.  He was a graduate of OSU and he liked to be outside birding.  I wanted to redo the trail of falling-down, baffle-less nestboxes at Chadwick Arboretum. Yeah, this had to work.

I had a Boy Scout looking for a project, so I launched my idea with my friend. To make a long story short, a few days later I got a Lowe’s $200.00 gift card in the mail. The idea that had started well before that day in May blossomed on the Magee Marsh boardwalk!

On Saturday, October 15, close to two dozen people came together to help a Boy Scout from Dublin Troop 117 named Ryan Jenkins fledge his Eagle Scout project. Let’s hear the story in Ryan’s words.

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My Eagle Scout Project was to help support the expansion of the bluebird species in Ohio at Ohio State University’s Chadwick Arboretum, which is located on 1,600 acres on the OSU main campus. The location of my bluebird project was at Chadwick Lake North, which has approximately 19 acres.  The project involved taking down 14 old bluebird boxes, some with nesting mice, and replacing them with 20 new bluebird boxes.

The population of bluebirds has decreased, and their future depends on us humans providing nesting sites (bluebird nesting boxes) or starting bluebird trails. A bluebird trail is a series of bluebird boxes along a designated location, and that’s what I updated at Chadwick. The habitat is an ideal location because it provides scattered trees and a small lake in the center of everything.

My project involved many steps including taking down the old bluebird boxes that were poorly made and in locations not conducive to bluebird nesting.  I marked the new sites with flags and I had to buy and prepare the material to make the new bluebird boxes, installing the boxes on EMT poles and using PVC baffles to keep out predators. I also had to GPS the new box locations.

I presented my project to the OSU Ornithology club. Data will be collected by the OSU students and submitted on Cornell Nestwatch.

Relocating the boxes to better sites hopefully will increase the number of bluebirds that can nest at Chadwick.

Ryan Jenkins

Dublin, Ohio

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Don’t be shy about your passion for bluebird conservation. It is such a win-win to see the youth leading adults to help wildlife. From that first box in your back yard to a trail in a nearby park, just do it. The birds and our future naturalists will thank you.

Ryan is my 28th Boy Scout with an Eagle project.  His brother Joey put up two 18-gourd martin rigs in April 2016 at Ottawa, and his story will be in the next Song Sparrow and here on the Web.

Now what are you waiting for? Isn’t it time for you to start a project?  Especially one with youth!

Darlene Sillick is the Ohio Bluebird Society Area Contact, Franklin County.