Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle

Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle

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Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill, and must include completion of an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. Luckily for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, prospective Eagle Scout Maclain Smith from Utah, made us the beneficiary of his service project. This past Friday afternoon, Maclain came up to Jackson to install 52 Mountain bluebird nestboxes that he and fellow Scouts constructed by hand.

With lots of laughs and great spirit, Maclain and nine of his family members spent a sunny autumn afternoon installing new pinewood nestboxes on half of our Mountain bluebird trail that runs along the western boundary of the National Elk Refuge. Our old nestboxes (that served their purpose for 13 years!) were taken to Teton Recycling Center where they will be repurposed into wood mulch and used for gardening and landscaping purposes. After 13 years, we felt it time to retire the old nestboxes as they had seen many repairs over the years, but their deteriorating condition was starting to present challenges in terms of predator control and protecting nests from bad weather conditions.

Not only are we fortunate to have the help of Maclain, but we currently have two more prospective Eagle Scouts producing a total of 72 additional nestboxes that will be installed this coming spring. Of these 72 — the other half of our trail will receive 52 new nestboxes, we are looking into placing additional nestboxes elsewhere on the National Elk Refuge, and keep a few in storage. Thank goodness for Scouts!

Click here to see a photo gallery documenting Maclain installing new Mountain bluebird nestboxes with the help of his family and JHWF staff.

Click here to read an account of the project published by the National Elk Refuge.

Look Ye Also While Life Lasts

Look Ye Also While Life Lasts

As a follow-up to last week’s blog post, unfortunately we have sad news to report. The nest with the five bluebird chicks seems to have been sabotaged and no observable signs exist of the chicks or their parents. Upon arriving at this particular nest box for weekly inspection, the top lid was haphazardly lying on the ground about a foot away; its screws that held it firmly in place were stripped from the wood and only just hanging on by wire. Scratch marks can be seen around the entrance hole. We can’t know for sure what happened, but we suspect we have a weasel hunting our mountain bluebird trail as other nature mappers have reported similar scenarios.

All we can do is remain vigilant to identify the predator and then devise an appropriate solution. It is a reminder to us of the nature of nature, and the circle of life in birth, survival and death — how all in nature are independent and interconnected. However, such involvement as ours through citizen science (while sometimes strongly tugging at our heartstrings) ultimately, still connects us with relevant, meaningful, and real experiences with science.

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