By Ilana DeBare
Golden Gate Audubon has many wonderful volunteers — sharp-eyed field trip leaders, personable docents, folks who assist with the unglamorous but essential work of maintaining our office files and member database.
But every so often we get a volunteer who, well, stands out from the flock.
Like Kathleen Curry – who recently built THIRTY-FIVE nest boxes for us from scratch!
Kathleen had building skills from her career as a general contractor. She had a garage filled with tools. She had a lifelong love of birds.
So when Volunteer Coordinator Noreen Weeden put out a request for help building nest boxes to sell as a fundraiser for GGAS, Kathleen answered the call.
Kathleen collected scrap wood and perused a variety of nest box building plans to ensure that the end-result would be usable and healthy for birds. (Nest boxes need to have ventilation, the holes need to be the right size for the desired species, etc.)
Then — together with volunteers Ken Bernicker and Michael Noel — she culled out any rotten or splintered wood, cut boards, sanded them, tacked the pieces together with nontoxic waterproof glue and a nail gun, secured the boxes with weatherproof screws, and waterproofed the rooves. Each box required several hours of work.
The result was a truck-full of nest boxes of varying sizes — small ones for titmice and chickadees, midsize for Western Bluebirds and Tree Swallows, humongous ones for Barn Owls.
We sold a bunch of the boxes at the Kensington farmer’s market this weekend. But more are available in our office: Come by during a weekday afternoon or call us at (510) 843-2222 if you’d like to buy one.
This was Kathleen’s first serious effort at building nest boxes. She had made bird houses with her kids when they were little — but that was quite a while ago.
Since then, her kids grew up (she now has six grandchildren!) and she became a birder.
Kathleen plunged in by taking our Birds of the Bay Area class about five years ago. “I had always been interested in birds, but until then, I’d been working so hard that I never had time to learn about them,” she said.
A Berkeley resident, Kathleen purchased a nest box for her own yard about four years ago.
It hasn’t had any tenants. But now, with 35 boxes under her belt, she’s hoping that will change.
“That was a commercial box,” she said. “I’m going to put up one of these. I have some titmice that hang out in my yard, and I hope to get a nesting pair.”
Want to get involved as a volunteer with Golden Gate Audubon? You don’t need to be handy with power tools! GGAS needs people to set up food and literature tables at our events, provide office help, advocate on conservation issues, replace weeds with native plants at important bird habitat sites, accompany kids on field trips, help with the Christmas Bird Count dinners, and many other things. See our volunteer page or contact Volunteer Coordinator Noreen Weeden at firstname.lastname@example.org.