Spring is here and the warmer weather is bringing out the beautiful bugs and critters that we’ve been missing over the winter! Here at Charlotte’s Quest we’ve been particularly antsy about the first bluebirds of the season because in mid-February volunteers began collecting data for the Eastern Bluebird Monitoring Program.
We hope to collect data to track the population and behavior of local bluebirds. We have also introduced a bluebird ‘Trail’ with new and repaired bluebird houses to encourage an increase in nesting activity and the prevalence of the species in general. Our plan is to double the total amount of bluebird houses by next nesting season. Currently, we have sixteen.
The data collecting process is very user friendly. Our friend and volunteer, Dan Schiller, has created a fun Google Doc form that enables our monitors to track specific bird activity, the presence of nests, chicks, eggs, and other important information. Uploading photos into the form allows us to share our experiences while checking on our feathered friends! Once a form is submitted, the data is compiled and updated in real-time. Our data can be narrowed down to show stand-alone demographics specific to the project. For example, we can view total percentages of the following: types of birds entering boxes over time, prevalence of nests, eggs, and chicks over time, and the time of day any activity was observed.
Since our new bluebird monitoring program has really started to take shape, we’ve also launched a fundraiser for those wanting to purchase a bluebird nesting box for their own homes. Now we’re taking it a step further and are extending the opportunity to contribute to our Eastern bluebird data to local community members. Residents in Manchester and neighboring towns such as Greenmount, Hampstead, Lineboro and Westminster will be able to observe, collect and submit Eastern bluebird data using the same Google form that Charlotte’s Quest uses, contributing to the assessment and conservation of our local bluebird population.
Another community-positive aspect of monitoring for this CQ project is the ability to earn volunteer hours. If you register with Charlotte’s Quest as a volunteer, you can earn volunteer hours for your school or organization while you observe and collect information. As a bonus, any volunteer time submitted to us helps cement our legacy in Manchester, demonstrating that we have the community’s support. This volunteerism also helps secure further funding, supporting Charlotte’s Quest’s long-term sustainability. We are also encouraging residents of areas outside of Northeastern Carroll County to participate in bluebird monitoring. We are working to offer another way for you to collect your data or reroute your findings to another dataset for the area that you reside in. All of us at CQ are also excited at the prospect of broadening this venture to include separate monitoring programs centered around other species, such as monarch butterflies, or maybe even cicadas.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
We would love to hear if there are other species you would like to see us monitor! Feel free to comment below and tell us what you think. Any other ideas, questions, or comments would also be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in becoming a monitor, purchasing a bluebird house for your home, or both, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at www.charlottesquest.org. You can reserve a bluebird house online here and pick it up from 1pm-3pm from the Nature Center during our First Sunday Hikes!