Local News

RTP makes homes for bluebirds

Posted April 7, 2011 2:24 p.m. EDT
Updated April 24, 2011 9:52 a.m. EDT

— 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.

"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."