Photo © Keith Williams
Photo © Chelsea Benson

Youth Workshops a Hit

Pine nest boxes lay across the picnic table, waiting to be installed on metal conduit with predator guards. Youth gather and work together determining the best location to install the nest boxes for our target species: Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, House Wrens, and Black-capped Chickadees. We wonder aloud, “Might we attract Tufted Titmice this year?” Soon installation is underway, and laughter fills the air along with the high-pitched whir of battery-powered screwdrivers. 

This nesting season marks the second year of our NestWatch workshop series. With the help of 4-H partners in two New York communities, NestWatch is in the process of piloting a curriculum aimed at engaging youth with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) using nesting birds as a “hook.” Throughout the three-part workshop series, youth install nest boxes, learn about breeding bird biology, monitor nest boxes, collect and analyze data, and build their own nest boxes. In the next several years, the curriculum will be hosted on the NestWatch website, freely available for educators, community members, and families. We look forward to sharing this fun resource with you! 

In addition to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, partners include Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Cornell University Cooperative Extensions of Columbia-Greene and Jefferson Counties, and New York State 4-H with additional support from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture for Smith-Lever project 2015-16-110.