Ohio Young Birders Club and the Prothonotary Warbler Nest Box Service Project
By Kimberly Kaufman and Darlene Sillick
Under the guidance of one of Ohio’s leading bird conservationists, Darlene Sillick, student members of the Ohio Young Birders Club (OYBC) conducted a service project to install Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes at the Hoover Nature Preserve (HNP) near Columbus, Ohio. The Prothonotary Warbler Nest Box Project was the result of the commitment of the OYBC’s Central Ohio Chapter to doing more service projects. They learned that a severe wind storm in late June caused significant wind damage to the trees supporting up to 50 Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes at Hoover Nature Preserve. They discussed what they could do to help and decided to get involved by raising funds to buy wood and supplies to build boxes, and then installing the boxes. In early October, the OYBC Central Ohio Chapter built 40 boxes. They suggested that participants at the annual Ohio Young Birders Conference could complete the remaining boxes. They also felt participating in this project would help educate people about the plight of this lovely warbler. The students wanted to make sure these beautiful birds find a place to call home when they return in April 2013.
On Saturday, November, 3, 2012, Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm in Dayton, Ohio, hosted the Sixth Annual Ohio Young Birders Conference. A crowd of nearly 140 people were treated to 11 outstanding student presentations. Topics included camps and career opportunities for young birders, the value of citizen science, and why bird conservation matters. The keynote speaker was Benjamin Van Doren, a freshman at Cornell University. In addition to the presentations, conference attendees also built the remaining 40 Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes for the project. On November 11, OYBC student members and adult volunteers installed dozens of the new boxes at Hoover Nature Preserve. Dedicated volunteer Charlie Bombaci, whose many years of service have made Hoover Nature Preserve a model of success for the Prothonotary Warblers, reports being thrilled that the young birders have decided to take on this project and “pay it forward” for the good of the species.
The Ohio Young Birders Club was founded in 2006 by Black Swamp Bird Observatory. For more information, visit the OYBC website at www.ohioyoungbirders.org. For more information about the Central Ohio Chapter, visit Columbus Audubon Society at www.columbusaudubon.org.