Around the Island

‘Bluebird buddies’ volunteer at Preserve

Bill Zitek, the lead volunteer for Mashomack Preserve’s Nestbox Project, and Chris Woods, a Mashomack trustee, recently installed nesting boxes for bluebirds on the preserve’s meadows.

Bluebirds are noted under almost every month of Mashomack Preserve’s running bird record. Some folks, however, have never seen the brilliant blue of our state bird, yet in recent years an increasing number can say that indeed they have seen bluebirds here on Shelter Island. That may be because their numbers have been increasing as the result of a well-monitored Nestbox Project that spans the many acres of open grasslands at Mashomack and provides 41 nest boxes over the 15-mile route. There have even been reports of bluebirds nesting on other properties on the Island.

Over the past several years, 228 eastern bluebirds have been fledged from Mashomack’s nestboxes along with 717 of their good buddies, the tree swallows.

As beloved as bluebirds are, they have suffered severely since the first settlers arrived — when, by the way, they were as numerous as robins are today — due to loss of habitat, two invasive species of birds and poor weather conditions. Luckily, concerned individuals have participated in a Nestbox Trail program across the country that has resulted in almost a seven percent increase in bluebird numbers since 1966.

Come on Thursday, March 25 at 5:30 p.m. to Mashomack’s Visitor Center and learn about the eastern bluebird and how you can participate in the Nature Conservancy’s wonderful project to bring bluebirds back to eastern Long Island. Please call the Mashomack office at 749-1001 to let us know if you are coming. Refreshments will be served.