By Ilana DeBare
In 2015, our Eco-Education program in Richmond added a component on Bird-Friendly Schools, where elementary school students enhanced their schoolyards with nest boxes and native plants.
This year, we expanded the nest box program to nearby park lands!
Fourth graders from Montalvin, Stege, and Lake Elementary Schools built twelve wooden nest boxes and installed them in nearby Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, where our Eco-Ed field trips introduce them to creek ecosystems. We designed the nest boxes for Western Bluebirds and crossed our fingers that a pair or two might show up.
We were not just pleasantly surprised. We were blown away when seven out of the twelve boxes were occupied… by four different species!
The student-built boxes attracted families of Ash-throated Flycatchers, House Wrens, and Tree Swallows, as well as Western Bluebirds.
In addition, two of the schoolyard nest boxes installed in 2015 drew Western Bluebird and Tree Swallow families this year. The nest box at Lake Elementary School even hosted two bluebird broods in one season. “The children were totally thrilled and proud,” Anthony said.
The broods in the Wildcat Canyon boxes hatched too late in the school year for the children to see them. But Anthony returned to monitor the boxes and took photos to share with classes next year.
We also plan to expand the nest box program to our Eco-Ed schools in Oakland and San Francisco next year — with boxes targeted for Knowland Park in Oakland and Glen Canyon Park in San Francisco.
“It’s absolutely thrilling to know that some simple actions can create new generations of resident and migratory birds,” Anthony said.
Golden Gate Audubon Society’s Eco-Education program provides hands-on nature education to ten Title I (low-income) elementary schools in Oakland, Richmond, and San Francisco. Since its start in 1999, Eco-Ed has served over 15,000 students and family members. Want to get involved? We need volunteers to help on field trips. Very flexible schedule. Volunteer trainings will take place in September: Contact Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.