Bountiful Bird Program
Willistown Parks and Recreation works with the Willistown Conservation Trust Homeowner Bird Box Program experts to create bird box placements for each of our Township parks. You too can help with bird conservation through our “Bountiful Bird Program”.
Starting with Okehocking Preserve and Greentree Park, the Trust and Parks Department identified which species of birds could be attracted to the available habitat and chose optimal locations for the boxes.
Bluebirds, House Wrens, Chickadees, Tree Swallows, Kestrels, Flickers, and Owls will be served by the array of boxes provided by the Trust program.
See if you can find the bird boxes at Okehocking and Greentree Park! If you want to get involved, this program isn't just for the birds—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 last 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! Please note, the Trust’s program is full for 2014. For more information, email Willistown Conservation Trust or visit their website.
It's Not Just For the Birds!
We are working with seventeen Jr. Troop 41311 Girl Scouts from Penn Wood Elementary School 4th and 5th grades (West Chester) in locating the boxes and conducting monitoring at Okehocking. Their Bountiful Bird Program participation will earn 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.
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 We have had a partnership with Valley Forge Audubon since the fall of 2000. Their monitoring of Willistown Township's Okehocking Preserve has identified 140 different bird species over that time. View the list of species spotted at Okehocking (PDF).
Birding Club of Delaware County This group is conducting a spring Okehocking Hawkwatch from 10AM - 2PM during April of 2014, counting 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. On April 6: An Osprey sat in a tree and ate a fish. Three Bald Eagles were watched, but not counted as migrants as they soared in the local area.