This past spring, the Green Bank Observatory and the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area hosted an event with the Deer Creek Defenders 4-H club to build nesting boxes for the Green Bank and Arborvale bird population. This project was managed by AmeriCorp staffer Joe Medica.
The new bird boxes were built to replace old boxes initially deployed by Dave Curry, a retired Observatory employee, and the founder and main proponent of the citizen science program involving these boxes on the Observatory grounds.
The lumber used to build these boxes was pre-cut by Observatory staff, and the pieces were labeled and drilled to make the boxes simpler to construct. Curry helped improve the box design by cutting in little steps, or kerfs, on the inside of the boxes to make it easier for the baby birds to climb up to the entrance hole once they are ready to fly. Even the youngest bird enthusiasts that came to help had no problems putting the boxes together! As they completed each box, the student volunteers left a little welcome message for the birds or signed their names.
After the 20 bird boxes were completed, the Observatory provided lunch by grilling up some hot dogs and once the volunteers had eaten their fill, Curry gave a presentation on the importance of cavity nesters, like bluebirds, tree swallows, and wrens, as well as how building these boxes helps the health of these populations. The presentation ended with a description of citizen science, and how using online data compilation programs like NestWatch can help researchers access data on bird populations of a variety of species across the country and track how our songbirds are doing.
Medica’s AmeriCorp position at Green Bank is part of the larger Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area (AFNHA) service region. AmeriCorps staff serve in positions in the region with a variety of partner organizations, completing work in conservation and heritage.