How to become a bluebird buddy

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO | A male (top) and female bluebird take in the view from their Mashomack nesting box.

It’s almost bluebird nesting time, and Mashomack Preserve is bringing bluebirds back to the East End, one nest box at a time. Islanders can find out how they can help in this effort on Thursday, March 24 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the preserve’s Visitor Center.

The meeting about the Nestbox Project will welcome seasoned volunteers as well as those who would like to find out about this “on the ground” conservation project.

Here’s how Dr. Bill Zitek, the bluebird project’s lead volunteer, describes the project:

“[This is] the 11th year of monitoring the 41 nest boxes that make up the nest box trail, which has to date produced 272 bluebirds and is very likely responsible for the many bluebird sightings on the East End and Shelter Island this year. Volunteers monitor the trail weekly, checking each nest box and recording the nesting progress of both the eastern bluebirds and the tree swallows that also occupy many of the nest boxes.

“Basic nest box monitoring, including nest and egg recognition for the different species and egg-to-nestling timetables, will be discussed at the meeting … Volunteers, who go out in groups of two or three each week, can sign up for the scheduling of weekly visits to the preserve (a treat in itself) at this meeting. Come and join us and help welcome the bluebirds back!”

Those interested in attending should give the preserve a call at 749-1001. A reception will kick off the meeting.