While the NWTF is known for its habitat enhancement projects throughout the country for various game and nongame species, the organization also takes pride in providing excellent wildlife habitat on its nearly 1,000-acre Outdoor Education Center, located at NWTF Headquarters in Edgefield, South Carolina.
Various species are managed on the OEC, including deer, turkey, pollinators, assorted fish and waterfowl, among others. The NWTF uses the property to host mentored hunts and other R3 (Recruit, Retain, Reactivate) events and to provide visitors the opportunity to learn about conservation, habitat and wildlife management and the importance of the NWTF’s mission.
An ongoing habitat project on the OEC for Haley Moore, NWTF’s museum and education coordinator, is surveying the 70-plus bluebird boxes on the property.
“I check on the boxes once a week, every week during the nesting period, which can range from the end of February to June,” Moore said.
Developmental and urbanization pressures have caused a precipitous decline in trees that would otherwise provide naturally occurring cavities for bluebird nesting; however, the use of artificial cavities eases nesting burden and makes monitoring bluebird progress easier.
“I monitor all of the boxes each week checking to see if they are empty, contain a partial or complete nest, what bird type is in the nest, etc.,” Moore said. “If there is a nest present, I record the number of eggs present each week and check on how many young are in the nest after the eggs begin to hatch. Often not all of the eggs will hatch, so I continue to monitor the eggs as they hatch, and then the young and their growth progress, until they fledge (develop wing muscles and feathers to fly).
“After the brood fledges, the nest is removed from the box. During this time, the male bluebird is teaching the fledglings how to find food and survive on their own while the female begins building a new nest to start the process over. Bluebirds normally have two to three broods per year.”
Moore submits her data to the South Carolina Bluebird Association where data from all over the state is consolidated and interpreted.
The NWTF encourages people to construct bluebird cavities and contribute to bluebird surveys.
“Putting up bluebird cavities is an easy and fun activity that can be done simply at home,” Moore said. “We encourage anybody with local bluebird populations to participate and share their data with the North American Bluebird Society or any of their local affiliates.”
For more information on how you can help provide nesting for the bluebird and partake in the surveys, visit www.nabluebirdsociety.org.
To see what you can do in your state, visit the North American Bluebird Society affiliates page at www.nabluebirdsociety.org/affiliates/.