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Build it and They Will Come
It should come as no surprise that I love seeing members of the younger generation getting excited about birds and finding ways to give back to our community. When I was contacted earlier this spring about an Eagle Scout project at The Cottages of Clear Lake here in League City, I couldn’t wait to hear more.
Eagle Scout candidate Michael Maddox, with Boy Scout Troop No. 603, wanted to add bird feeders at the memory care facility to bring beauty and joy to the lives of the residents and hard-working staff. He was looking for information and inspiration to expand his ideas, and after a little brainstorming over Zoom, the project soon took on a life of its own! Michael’s final Eagle Scout project plans included building and installing a total of three feeding stations, four bluebird houses, and two Purple Martin houses on the large property.
As you can imagine, a project of this size required a lot of research and planning on Michael’s part, in addition to fundraising to cover the cost of expenses, and leadership skills to guide his team through challenges along the way. This included ensuring the safety of residents by maintaining proper social distancing during workdays on the property; creating a contingency plan for covered workspace at League City United Methodist Church during the very rainy month of May; and – last but not least – using posthole diggers to create 3-foot-deep holes in the hard, clay-packed soil in temperatures nearing 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In the end, 21 troop members and 9 adults participated in the project!
The feeding stations offer different types of food to attract a variety of species throughout the year, and the birdhouses will provide crucial nesting space for Eastern Bluebirds and Purple Martins. These two species are both cavity nesters that have experienced a decline over the last few decades due to the loss of suitable nesting habitat. As a result, they are dependent on conversation efforts such as this to find safe places to raise their young successfully.
I am so proud of Michael and everyone who helped him bring his vision to life. Check out our video to see the results of this amazing community effort, and to learn Michael’s advice for tackling a similar project.
Feeling inspired? You can find information about attracting bluebirds, plans for building nest boxes, and more on the North American Bluebird Society’s website. The NestWatch website offers helpful tips for placing and maintaining Purple Martin houses on your property, as well as nest box construction plans for this species and many others. Your feathered friends will thank you!
Contributed by Kristine Rivers, founder of Birding for Fun