A recent article in the Reporter told of multiple eastern bluebird sightings on Shelter Island. North and South Fork birders have also commented on the large number of bluebirds seen this winter. The reason,m according to Mashomack volunteer, veterinarian Bill Zitek, it has been somewhat warmer this winter and this means that the bluebirds can find good warm shelter and food compared to other, more severe winters!
The fact that we have so many bluebirds here is attributable to the Nest Box Project at Mashomack Preserve, Dr. Zitek said. The project has seen the numbers of eastern bluebirds fledged from their nest boxes rise steadily every year — 320 bluebirds and 860 tree swallows have been fledged from the 43 nest boxes stationed throughout the preserve. Now, beginning our 12th year, volunteers prepare for the 2012 season. You could be one of them!
Each year, 16 to 20 volunteers go out on scheduled weekly trips around the preserve, monitoring the nest boxes. This allows folks to visit areas of the preserve that would otherwise not be accessible to visitors, Dr. Zitek explained. Traveling by truck, they visit each nest site and record their findings and carry out management duties. This is an active, hands-on conservation project that many can participate in, experiencing the beauty of the preserve and as well as helping bring the eastern bluebird population back.
On Thursday, March 22 at 5:30 p.m. an instructional meeting will be held at Mashomack’s Visitor Center. Refreshments will be served and seasoned volunteers will meet those who are newly interested in this project. The Preserve will plan for the upcoming nest box season which begins on April 1.
Students through senior citizens are welcome. Call 749-1001 to let the Preserve office know you are coming!