Bountiful Bird Program
Willistown Parks and Recreation has joined the Willistown Conservation Trust Homeowner Bird Box Program. You too can help with bird conservation through our “Bountiful Bird Program.”
Bluebirds, House Wrens, Chickadees, Tree Swallows, Kestrels, Flickers, and Owls are just some of the birds that benefit from this program. Can find the bird boxes in our parks and preserves?
You can find info below along with many informational documents and websites under Materials and Links so that your property can be a Bountiful Bird Program site.
Why Bird Boxes?
Not only do bird boxes offer opportunities for people to enjoy the feathered flyers in action and observe their eggs and babies, they also provide critical habitat for these cavity-nesting birds—many of which are declining in population. According the Trust, “Eastern Bluebird populations in Pennsylvania were down by 90% in the mid-1900s as a result of habitat loss, pesticides, and competitive invasive species like House Sparrows and European Starlings. The Bluebird recovery is thanks in part to closely monitored nest boxes that are safeguarded against invasive bird competition.”
The Trust credits Ken Leister, County Coordinator for the Bluebird Society of PA, for helping to establish and administer the Homeowner Bird Box Program by building boxes, supplying informational materials, and providing guidance. View Ken's summary story. The program installed 113 bird boxes in the Willistown area in its inaugural year. Residents reported the great pleasure they and their children experienced watching the birds fly in and out of the boxes and seeing the eggs, then babies during their monitoring activities. Imagine how engaging and exciting this experience is for a child—not to mention an adult’s delight! For more information, email Willistown Conservation Trust or visit their website.
It's Not Just For the Birds!
We worked with seventeen Jr. Troop 41311 Girl Scouts from Penn Wood Elementary School 4th and 5th grades (West Chester) in locating blue bird boxes and conducting monitoring at Okehocking. Their Bountiful Bird Program participation earned the Troop it’s Bronze Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve.
Do you live near or frequent Greentree Park or Okehocking Preserve? Are you intrigued by this program? If so, you can become a monitor of the Bountiful Bird Program boxes in our parks! Email Mary for info.
One of the great things about the Bountiful Bird Program is that kids can experience the thrill of seeing birds "grow" from nest to fledgling as well as their adult counterparts—it's a program for all ages!
Materials & Links
Following are all kinds of great materials and links including some shared by the Willistown Conservation Trust on bird box locating, monitoring forms, and nesting timetables.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Cavity Nesting Birds
NestWatch through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: NestWatch is a nationwide monitoring program designed to track status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. You can become a certified NestWatcher!
Valley Forge Audubon Society Valley Forge Audubon monitored Okehocking for over a decade, thanks in large part to Edie Parnum who also gave wonderful bird walks prior to moving away. Their monitoring of Willistown Township's Okehocking Preserve identified 140 different bird species! View the list of species spotted at Okehocking (PDF).
Birding Club of Delaware County This group has conducted Okehocking Hawk watches recording migrating hawks. Their data has been submitted to the Hawk Migration Association of North America. Scroll through the April dates to find out what they saw and counted each day.