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Sunday, 1 March 2020

WRN Teens - Nest Box Project

29 February 2020

     Leap Year! A day that occurs only once every four years, and I spent part of this special day with an exceptional group of people.
    By way of background, Waterloo Region Nature (hereafter WRN) Teens came into existence as a group just last year. Marg Paré who had been involved for several years with WRN Kids felt the need for an organized group for youngsters who exceeded the age cutoff for the young children, and thus, WRN Teens was born. From its embryonic stage it has been a resounding success, now having matured to about twenty members, due entirely to the hard work and dedication of Marg and Linda Dutka, and the eager participation of these outstanding young people. The encouragement and support they receive from their parents should be the standard for good parenting.

Marg, Linda


     The teens have been involved in a wide range of activities including salamander monitoring, visits to the Ecology Lab at the University of Waterloo for scientific training, invasive species removal, winter tracking, environmental cleanup and other endeavours.

     At SpruceHaven we have been able to allocate six nest boxes for Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) to form a designated trail for the Teens, which they will monitor this year and into the future. As a component of this venture we felt it would be instructive if they could build one of the nest boxes to cement their relationship with the birds; hence a nest box building workshop was organized.

     To facilitate this, Mike and Anita Smith (in the pictures below Mike is the one with the beard!) welcomed the Teens to their home, and Mike's well-equipped woodworking shop. Mike is a superb carpenter and a patient mentor for the Teens. I cannot say enough about these wonderful, friendly people who have done so much to help. Anita, I should mention, is our club's Conservation Director, a baker of sourdough bread and an accomplished tracker.












     The nest boxes had already been cut at a previous session and were ready for final assembly. Marg issued a few final instructions.




     The boards were ready to be transformed into avian homes.


     Ella, Nicole and Megan got to work right away and displayed an impressive level of adroitness around tools that are probably unfamiliar to them.


      Each person cooperates and has a share in the various operations needed to bring the nest box to completion.
      At the other end of the room, Eric, Jonah and Owen are busy assembling the bluebird box that will hopefully house a family in just a few weeks.


     Meanwhile, the all-girl team was hard at work and doing everything just right. Their level of confidence was impressive.



     The largest nest box was for a Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) and concentration was needed. As you may see, Paula and Bennett are focused on the task at hand.



        Everything is going according to plan. The boards are lined up; it all fits together.  Better not let your attention wander, however. 



              Mike was constantly moving from group to group, offering words of encouragement and guidance where needed. It was a joy to watch the interaction between an experienced woodworker and a cadre of enthusiastic acolytes.
     Looks like this team is well satisfied with their finished product.



     The others were equally proud to show off the results of the afternoon's work. You already met Paula and Bennett; that's Cora in the centre.




     A group shot seemed to be just the token needed to memorialize this noteworthy activity.


     I had to leave after the nest building operation but Anita and Mike invited everyone into their home where Anita showed the Teens her skull collection, and served them hot chocolate and sweet treats too. Marg and Linda sent me a few pictures.






     And afterwards, the indefatigable Anita took them out for a winter-tracking session.






Deer Browse
Owl Pellets
     I would be remiss if I did not conclude this account without uttering resounding kudos to the Teens, polite, disciplined, intelligent youth; they give me hope for the future.
     And I take my hat off to Marg, Linda, Mike and Anita. Their commitment and dedication is inspirational. Furthermore their transparent joy in contributing to the future of our youth in this way is palpable. 
     Mere words fail to express my deep appreciation of their selflessness. They are my heroes.
     And one last word, Anita makes sourdough bread, and Mike mentioned that he has some excellent Tequila. Hmmm. Maybe better bar the doors if you don't want me easing my way back in! Sounds too good to pass up, doesn't it?

64 comments:

  1. Brilliant, I wish I could have joined them with the nest box making. I have all the plans for a nest box for Little Owls but I would love a little help.

    Now I have a sour dough starter kit, I 'simply' have to start it!!

    Great news that you have polite and intelligent teenagers, I have to say we appear to be lucky here in France, the majority (in this area) are very polite, I did not find quite the same I must say while we were in the UK though I cannot speak for all areas there either.

    Have a good day, best wishes to you both, Diane

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    1. Mike says to bring your plans over here, Diane, and he will help you to put the box together!

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  2. C'est super, je trouve que les jeunes s'intéressent de moins en moins à la nature, et c'est bien dommage. Cela donne un espoir pour l'avenir, car vraiment j'ai beaucoup d'exemple de jeunes qui ne s'intéressent qu'à leur téléphone, console et se comportent mal...
    Bravo à l'équipe qui anime ces activités.
    Et les nichoirs sont très jolis.
    Bonne soirée

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    1. Merçi bien. C'est un grand plaisir pour nous de pouvoir aider ces jeunes.

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  3. What a wonderful group to help build the nest boxes. I sure they felt great after it was completed, something to be proud of.

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  4. Buenas tardes, perfecto amigo David, es una acción encomendable y de agradecer la gran labor que vienen desarrollando tus buenos amigos, al igual que la predisposición de esa gente joven para aprender y coger el testigo de cuantos os dedicáis a esas bellas labores. Es muy bonito encontrar gente joven con valores y respetuoso con el medio, cuidarlo, respetarlo…
    Que mejor enseñanza la de tus amigos comprometidos con esa noble causa. Gente así hace falta mucha.
    Un gran abrazo amigo y compadre y un beso para Miriam.

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    1. Estamos muy contentos de ayudar a estes jóvenes, querido amigo Juan.

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  5. What a wonderful group of people and a fantastic project. You are right, they do give us hope for the future.

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  6. What a great intiative, David! I'm totally impressed, and one aspect of your posts that has just dawned on me is that, whenever you show the involvement of youngsters, girls are well represented - even possibly exceeding the boys' numbers? Whilst I think that in UK there is possibly a small swing towards female involvement in birding and other aspects of wildlife interest, I get the impression that, sadly, it is still male dominated, although the opposite is probably true when one looks at professional involvement.

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  7. The nest boxes are so nice, David. It must be fun making them.
    The teenagers are very handy!

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  8. What a wonderful group and a wonderful day.
    Half a world away I am smiling broadly.
    Huge thanks to ALL the participants.

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  9. It's always very encouraging to hear of young people who are dedicated to a good cause, they give us hope for the future. Regards, Valerie

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  10. David, I agree with you, it is wonderful to see young people interested in these activities, they are a hope for the future that always gives us happiness.
    Many kisses!

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  11. Hacéis un trabajo extraordinario, las nuevas generaciones son el futuro del planeta. Enhorabuena David, un fuerte abrazo desde España.

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  12. Well done to all of them, I hope the birds appreciate their work and waste no time in moving into these desirable residences.

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  13. A fine group of people David.

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  14. Me parece una idea genial, y a los chicos les encanta. Un abrazo.

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  15. There are so many great teens these days. This looked like a fantastic experience for everyone involved.

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  16. What a wonderful project- youngsters building birds' nest boxes!
    (as far as I know, in Israel we've got a project that helps funding purchase of nest boxes for farms and schools. The money comes mainly from donations).
    Kudos to the adult organizers and instructors of this great activity!

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    1. I hadn't realized such a scheme existed in Israel, Duta. Do you happen to know which species are attracted to nest those boxes?

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    2. The project for farmers involve barn owls to see whether these birds can control rodent pests.

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    3. Common sense coming to the fore, Duta. Better and cheaper than poisons.

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  17. What a worthwhile project with the teens. It is so important to get young people involved with our natural environment, and this group is spot on. I am not surprised that the girls show a high level of confidence - this is something I often witness at the high school where I work.
    Who will put out the nesting boxes - will the teens do that as well? And will you (the group) observe whether the nesting boxes are accepted and feathered families will be raised there?

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  18. We will physically install the boxes in appropriate locations but they will do the monitoring, with our guidance and assistance. We have a bluebird trail exclusively assigned to them, waiting for one more nest box which they have made, for a total of six nest boxes. We hope that the Teens will become surrogate parents soon!

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  19. Can't have too many bird nests.

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  20. Great to see young enthusiasts joining the group.

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  21. This is a good way to get kids interested in natural history and keep them interested.

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  22. You mentioned Eastern Bluebirds, I have conceived a dislike for them. Years ago in NC we had all kinds of nesting boxes for birds in our back yard. One was used by Prothonotary Warblers for several years. Then one year they were using it again when a Bluebird took exception to them and had a punch up with the Prothonotary. Last we ever saw of them. We were very disappointed.

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    1. Losing the Prothonotary Warblers would have been disappointing, I am sure, Jo, but it is Nature writ large playing out when one species competes with another. As humans, we have tipped the balance completely.

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  23. I forgot to mention I think this is a wonderful idea and a great way to introduce young people to a love of the natural world.

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  24. Hei!Hadde alle gjort som dette hadde det blitt mindre ensomhet og ungdomstragedier i verden.Veldig veldig flott gjort!Jeg er stolt av dere
    Hilsen Anita

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  25. That is a great scheme that should hopefully set all them of them up with an interest in natural history for the rest of their lives which they can then pass on to others tool
    It will be exciting for them to observe the nesting boxes as and when they become inhabited.

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  26. Underbart att föra kunskap om naturen vidare till ungdomar. Det finns så mycket i ungdomarnas värld idag som konkurrerar om uppmärksamhet och alltför många människor lever i fullständig okunskap om naturen och dess villkor. Vi vårdar inget som vi inte förstår, det motsatta är också sant.

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    1. It is so true, Gunilla. Everything starts with understanding. And you have the ultimate teenager for the world to admire, of course. The attacks against Greta are so reminiscent of the vitriol directed to Rachel Carson, but Greta will go down in history on the same page as Rachel as one of the greatest environmental advocates of all time.

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  27. What a great club/project!
    That pic of Anita is wonderful.

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  28. It's always good to see the enthusiasm from young folk, you have a great community there with such a lot of good role models :)

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  29. Hello David, it is awesome to see these young people involved with the bluebird trail. Wonderful photos and a wonderful group of nature lovers. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

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    1. Time for you to start a club down your way, Eileen.

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  30. What a wonderful set of activities for the kids. There are so many amazing teens who don't get press. My grandies adore the outdoors!

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    1. Good to hear, Jenn. Mine are not as avid outdoors kids as I wish they were. One is a classic "glued to his iPad" kind of kid.

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  31. The result of joining the wooden boards is without defect.

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  32. Great to see young people getting involved in this project.

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  33. Hi David,
    What a wonderful project for these youngsters to be involved with an they appear to be working with great enthusiasm, what a pleasant change to see teenagers without an I phone in the hand.
    Well done to all involved.
    All the best,
    John

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  34. That looks like a wonderful day of learning and fun!
    You have just inspired me to go outside and clean my two nesting boxes.

    PS you are so right about the experience of little birds landing on us. Such a life changing wonder-full feeling!

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  35. How absolutely wonderful for all! The deer browse and owl pellets really caught my attention.

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  36. Wonderful to see the younger generation getting interested in nature. A very enjoyable group of people with some lovely smiles. Very interesting post, thank you David.

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  37. This is a great way to pass the torch to the upcoming generations...it only takes a simple positive event to create a lifetime of enthusiasm for nature. They all did great jobs and kudos to the organizers.

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  38. the nest box looks cute, hope, owl will love it...

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  39. The nest box project is wonderful, and it was a joy just to follow their progress through your photos. I did smile at the skull collection, especially since I spotted the raccoon right away. And I laughed at the young girl contemplating the skull with such concentration. All I could think was, "Alas, poor Yorick!"

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  40. Hi David - how brilliant that the kids were so interested and then to give them the trail to follow and monitor in Sprucehaven will keep them engaged over the Spring and Summer ... lucky Eastern Bluebirds ... hope they come. The Northern Flicker will be another bird they'll come to understand ... just such a good initiative. Looks amazing and such fun for them ... while they've really knowledgeable guides - Anita and Mike, and also Marg - and you being available to them for future ideas and information. So pleased to see - though the tequila and sourdough sounds tempting! Cheers Hilary

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    1. And let us not omit Linda, Hilary, who does so much with these young people. She and Marg are a fine team!

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  41. Los que nacieron el 29 de febrero, tienen complicado celebrar su cumpleaños. Tienen que esperar 4 años para que aparezca esa fecha.

    Besos

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  42. Your times at Spruce Haven are always some of my favorite posts. What a great opportunity to be able to contribute to the birds with the nesting boxes and work in the companionship of fellow bird lovers young and old, but especially young. Truly wonderful.

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  43. Bardzo podoba mi się dziewczyna trzymająca czaszkę. Zupełnie jak w "Hamlecie" : "Być albo nie być"
    Fajnie, ze młodzi ludzie mogli brać udział w takich warsztatach!

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  44. David - this is deeply moving and encouraging. We need our young people to engage in our world if it is to be saved, and how wonderful that there are adults out there leading the way! Can't wait to hear more about the success of the nesting boxes!

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  45. That manny birds will make use of these wonderful nestboxes David. A fantastic initiatief with only winners, kids and birds. What more do you want.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  46. Me gusta conocer a tu equipo. Y más me gusta que los jovenes se impliquen. Ellos son el futuro amigo.
    También trabajo con ellos. Soy voluntaria de Cruz Roja y ahí estamos enseñando
    Un abrazo.

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  47. hello David
    very nice action to get young people excited about nature and animals .. not easy but always worth a try, I support you from Germany in your thoughts ...
    Regards Frank

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  48. I don't know any kids who don't like making birdhouses. It's magic for them. Very good activity.

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