A group of volunteers has installed new boxes for bluebirds at Delaware’s Oak Grove Cemetery.
Paula Ziebarth has been monitoring bluebird trails since 2002 and is the Delaware area contact for the Ohio Bluebird Society.
So when an Eagle Scout installed bird boxes in Oak Grove Cemetery in 2013 with hopes of attracting eastern bluebirds, Ziebarth took notice.
“It wasn’t the best quality project, but he had done all that work,” she said. “Obviously we wanted to see how it (did).”
Ziebarth and trail monitor Laura Kelly kept track of the boxes and found that the 23 boxes fledged just six bluebirds last year because the boxes were too small or clustered.
Sparrows were taking the boxes over, which kept the bluebirds away.
“(Sparrows are) just the bullies of the bird world,” Kelly said. “They destroy the mother (bluebirds) and the eggs. Not even for a good reason – they don’t even use the nest. They’re just nasty birds. Bluebirds need a little help.”
Something needed to be done. So Ziebarth organized a group to build new boxes, which were installed Saturday morning.
With materials donated by Darlene Sillick through her Zeppick Nestbox Project and some help from his friends at the Aktion Club, Paula’s son, Greg, built about 170 boxes to be used throughout the area, including 20 boxes for Oak Grove.
“The cemetery and the city are excited and happy we’re doing it,” Ziebarth said.
Six of the 20 boxes built for the cemetery are to attract the sparrows. They were installed in areas that are more attractive to the sparrows — to keep them away from the bluebirds.
But they needed help installing them. So they turned to the Delaware Evening Kiwanis Club for volunteers. The group gathered at the cemetery Saturday morning, broke up into teams and installed the new boxes.
“We’ve been looking for ways to help (the Aktion Club) out,” said Dick Brulotte of the Kiwanis Club. “As Kiwanians, we do things to make the community better and we focus on kids of all ages. This has been one of the things that we wanted to do to get more involved with the Aktion Club.”
Greg is a member of the Aktion Club, a Kiwanis program which serves developmentally disabled adults that do service projects around the community. Its motto is, “Where development has no disability.”
“Greg has autism,” Ziebarth said. “He loves birds and he loves people. He’s very social for someone with autism which is an awesome thing.”
He has been with the Aktion Club for about eight years.
“We try to sign up for these kinds of the things because he loves to work,” Ziebarth said.
And while different members of the community got together to help out at Oak Grove, Sillick pointed out that it’s a great family activity as well.
“It’s great to watch the birds as they build their nests, lay their eggs, hatch and fledge, and then hang around your yard for a while,” she said.
Sillick is the Franklin County contact for the Ohio Bluebirds Society.
Ziebarth is looking for homeowners in Delaware County who are interested in setting up nest boxes for her bluebirds over Delaware. Contact her at email@example.com.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.