Help bring the North Fork’s bluebird species back to life

03/18/2014 4:20 PM |
Eastern bluebirds were near extinction in the 1970s. The population on Shelter Island has increased by over 300 percent in the past 12 years. (Credit: courtesy)

Eastern bluebirds were near extinction in the 1970s. The population on Shelter Island has increased by over 300 percent in the past 12 years. (Credit: courtesy)

The Eastern Bluebird Conservation Program at Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island is looking for volunteers interested in taking part in weekly trips to the preserve to record the nesting progress of eastern bluebirds, whose species population has been recovering from near extinction in the 1970s. 

Homeowners can also lend a hand in helping the population recover by providing bluebirds with boxes of their own — giving them a place to nest in one’s yard.

“Volunteers will have the opportunity to observe bluebirds throughout the season: As they select and build their nests in nest boxes in early Spring, see the first blue eggs appear, and see the hatchlings mature into fledglings which join their families in the open meadows and forest edges, said Bill Zitek, lead volunteer for the Mashomack Nest Box Trail.

The monitoring season begins in late March and ends in early August. Bluebirds usually have two nestings a season, he said.

After more than 12 years of providing nest boxes for eastern bluebirds at Mashomack Preserve — Shelter Island’s bluebird population alone has increased by over 300 percent, Dr. Zitek said, adding that farms and vineyards across the North Fork have started to put up nesting boxes to help the population recover.

On March 27, Dr. Zitek and program experts are hosting a meeting for potential volunteers to discuss the history of the eastern bluebird and other cavity nesting birds — and how to provide them with nesting boxes.

The meeting will take place at the Mashomack Preserve Visitor/Education Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Call 749-1001 to let preserve officials know you are coming.

cmiller@timesreview.com

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