Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Volunteer Opportunity - Nest Box Monitoring

The Laramie Audubon Society (LAS), is seeking a group of volunteers to monitor nest boxes at the Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge located southwest of Laramie. We will be looking to form at least three crews to monitor a group of the boxes once weekly from mid-May through mid- to late July.  The weekly time commitment to check a group of 12 to 16 nest boxes is about an hour or so depending on the rate of walking. Last year, we conducted the nest box checks on Sunday, mid-morning and followed the CDC Covid-19 safety guidelines to social distance.  We do not expect a weekly commitment of each volunteer, however we would prefer that volunteers rotate with other members in their crew in an effort to share observations and data between crew members. All new volunteers would be trained by returning volunteers. 

In past years, the nest boxes were primarily used by tree swallows. Data for each nest box will be collected on forms to include: the date, nest status and condition (if nesting material is present, and if an obvious nest central cup is present, if the nest is damaged or gone); number of eggs, number of live or dead hatchlings and fledglings; adult bird activity and behavior; and status of the young (if nestlings are naked and pink, date when presence of wing feathers emerged, and when body feathers completely cover the skin), and dates when the young have fledged. 

The data collected will be entered into Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch database. NestWatch is a nationwide monitoring program developed by Cornell to track status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive.  Their database is intended to be used to study the current condition of breeding bird populations and how they may be changing over tine as a result of climate change, habitat degradation and loss, expansion of urban areas, and the introduction of non-native plants and animals.  This being said, as a volunteer and community scientist, you will be contributing to the collection of additional data and aid in the future conservation of bird species.  It would be ideal if one person from each of the three monitoring crews would enter the data into the online database.  Again, training will be provided.

LAS thanks all 2020 volunteers and future 2021 volunteers!  Please contact Jan Hart, LAS via email at janhart22@hotmail.com if you are interested in helping with the 2021 nest box monitoring efforts.  Please respond by April 20 if interested so that training and crews' weekly schedules can be arranged.  Also, feel free to contact Jan with any questions at (307) 760-9693 as well.

Flock of Sandhill Cranes observed flying over Hutton Lake NWR by 2020 LAS/NestBox volunteers.
(Photo courtesy of Laurel Armstrong)

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