Bluebirds wintering on Shelter Island

DR. BILL ZITEK PHOTO | Volunteer Doug Kalunas puts the finishing touches on a bluebird roosting box in Mashomack’s North Field.

Did you know that bluebirds can still be seen on Shelter Island during the winter?

While they raise their young in the spring and summer, some of our New York state birds still can be found here during the colder months.

The colder weather can be a challenge and when the temperatures drop, birds will seek shelter in hollow trees, thick foliage or even boxes.

On November 25, Dr. Bill Zitek and volunteer Doug Kalunas headed out into Mashomack Preserve’s meadows and replaced four small nesting boxes with specially designed roosting boxes. Larger, with the entrance hole at the bottom, the boxes are constructed with several pegs inside to provide ample room for many birds to huddle on. The hole at the bottom allows the warmer air to rise and remain in the box.

There is evidence that the birds have used the nest boxes in the past and we are hoping that these specially designed boxes will provide further shelter and increased survival for the beautiful eastern bluebird.

The Nature Conservancy, with Bill as our lead volunteer, has helped fledge 428 bluebirds from our nest box trail in its 13 years of monitoring.