Council students built 20 bluebird boxes in February for their Bird by Bird project. The Exploring Science students (7th and 8th graders) built 10 boxes and placed them next to the Weiser River Trail near the school last week. The Council fourth graders also built bluebird boxes and hopefully these boxes will be placed along the Shingle Flat Trail five miles northeast of Council as soon as the snow melts, making the trail accessible. We are also waiting for Forest Service approval to place these boxes along the Shingle Flat trail. Another 10 boxes are being placed on private land between the Council schools and Shingle Flat Trail. Students will monitor the boxes near the school this spring and adult volunteers will monitor the other boxes. We are hoping students will be able to visit the Shingle Flat Trail boxes at least once this spring.
Students and volunteers will collect the data on each nesting box during the spring and early summer. The data collected will be shared with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology “Nest Watch” citizen program. This program has citizen scientists collect data on nest location, nest description, breeding data, and nesting attempt summary (see https://nestwatch.org for more information). Both western and mountain bluebirds are known to visit and nest in the Council area. Students will explore the data to determine if bluebirds nest in the boxes placed along an elevation gradient from 2900 feet to about 6000 feet. Students will also determine what other birds are using the nesting boxes and if there is any habitat preference among the different bird species.
Finally, the feeding station at the Council community garden has not been very fruitful this winter and last fall. A short distance away, a Council resident has bird feeders and observes greater numbers and diversity of birds. After spring break, the Bird by Bird feeding station will be moved to determine if a different location entices more birds to the feeder.