Photo © Keith Williams
Photo © Chelsea Benson

NestWatch Lessons in the Field 

In October, we mentioned that NestWatch had received support from the Smith-Lever Act fund to design a curriculum focused on engaging youth in citizen science and nest box stewardship. Since then, this project has also received support from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, enabling NestWatch to source lumber that was grown and harvested with habitat and bird conservation taken into consideration.This month we hit the ground running with workshops at two Upstate New York communities.

With the help of our 4-H partners, we were able to work with more than 50 participants to install 18 nest boxes intended for Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Black-capped Chickadees, and House Wrens. Youth learned about birds’ preferred habitat types through games and online interactives including our Right Bird, Right House tool. We also covered topics such as Features of a Good Birdhouse and proper nest box installation. NestWatch staff will return to our partner sites two more times this spring to engage youth with science concepts such as breeding bird biology, nest monitoring, data collection and analysis, and hands-on nest box construction. Participants will finish the third and final workshop with a nest box of their own and the resources to become citizen scientists.

We are excited to be embarking on this new outreach initiative. Our goal is to engage youth with science and ecology with a focus on breeding birds. After all, what better gateway into science than nests, eggs, and baby birds? Look for the final product to be hosted on the NestWatch website, freely available to families and educators.