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RTP makes homes for bluebirds

Posted April 7, 2011
Updated April 24, 2011

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— Amid the big business and high-tech industries of the Research Triangle Park, workers are making homes for bluebirds, whose numbers are dwindling in urban areas.

Across the RTP campus, 43 birdboxes designed just for the eastern bluebird.

birdhouse Bluebirds find homes in RTP

"Eastern bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters. They have to live in a hole that's already there," RTP employee Billy Paugh said. "A woodpecker can excavate its own home. A bluebird can't do that."

As people developed land, the bluebird lost much of its natural habitat, and its numbers fell. Birdbox programs like the one at RTP are designed to bring back the bird.

Those who live and work around RTP adopt the boxes and care for the nests.

"They have to do things like keep track of what's happening in the box, whether there's birds actually nesting in it, if there's any sort of predatory activity," Paugh said.

This spring, bluebirds started setting up their nests in March, and the first chicks began to hatch in April. The boxes also provide habitat for flying squirrels, tree frogs and other bird species.

Once the chicks fly away, the caretakers will clean the boxes and report their data to a volunteer group, Nest Watch, which monitors bird population trends.

The data will also go to Cornell University researchers, who will recommend ways to improve the boxes.

Trina Dorcheus works for Monsanto; her company adopted three boxes. She enjoys being able to take a walk into the woods in the middle of a workday.

"We just started. This is our first year, so we're really excited about this," she said.

More importantly, Dorcheus said, she's doing something for nature.

"This is all important for future generations, as well," she said. "It's a good feeling to be doing that."


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  • doovinator Apr 25, 2011

    I'd rather have bluebirds than mosquitoes!

  • BrightLight Apr 25, 2011

    Bluebirds help me connect to the more pleasant memories of my rural upbringing in eastern NC during the fifties and sixties. I've had bluebird boxes for years as an adult. Thanks RTP.

  • Scubagirl Apr 25, 2011

    I've put up a bluebird box and had at least one couple checking it out. Unfortunately a chicadee moved in before the female bluebird made up her mind. Am hoping once these chicks hatch I can clean it out and still have it be a bluebird house. Will probably get another as well

  • Hammerhead Apr 25, 2011

    Watching nature is, quite simply, one of the great pleasures of life. I still have my Herbert Zim guide books from the 60s when I was in elemtary school, and can't be out in the woods enough even today!

  • Blue Devil 2 Apr 25, 2011

    I enjoy watching bluebirds. I have two boxes in my back yard. They nest every year. I love the bright blue color on the male bird. They are very loyal to their home and mate.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 25, 2011

    @fatchance, did you read the article? "As people developed land, the bluebird lost much of its natural habitat, and its numbers fell."

    So, the birds were doing fine for a long time, as you mentioned, but then humans came in and destroyed their homes & habitats.

    Now, some people are trying to help these birds regain some numbers by building some houses. Are you really not understanding that?

  • Hammerhead Apr 25, 2011

    fat, but it doesn't hurt to encourage them to nest and breed. Bluebirds eat countless pests. And besides, we drove them out of their habitat to begin with. I for one am happy that I have dozens of birds, butterflies and bees to look after my many gardens.

  • fatchanceimwrong Apr 25, 2011

    It's amazing that animals have existed for so long without humans "caring" for them.