Audubon Society continues TogetherGreen roosting box project

Thanks to the Weminuche Audubon Society, hundreds of non-migratory birds will find cold and inclement weather much more tolerable this winter.

As part of their third TogetherGreen project since late September, 40 members and friends of the local Audubon chapter constructed several roosting boxes last Saturday at the Pagosa Springs Community Center.

Construction began at precisely 9 a.m. and in a matter of approximately three hours, 20 boxes — each capable of holding at least 26 birds — were assembled and ready for distribution throughout the community.

Members of local Boy Scout Troop 807 pre-cut and drilled the lumber, before the young and young at heart pitched in with hammers, drills, screwdrivers and glue, quickly transforming materials into finished avian shelters, by lunchtime.

A well-sealed roosting box provides critical shelter to wild birds during bitter nights, prolonged periods of heavy moisture or extreme cold. Resembling a large bird house, its entry is near the bottom, while 13 perches are staggered throughout its upper interior. Because warm air rises, as birds huddle together, their collective body heat keeps them comfortable and cozy.

Upon completing the boxes, volunteers shared snacks, pizza and soft drinks, then ventured forth to all corners of the county. Many individuals took a box home, where each agreed to mount and monitor it through the winter. Roosting boxes are normally attached to the south-facing sides of trees, between seven and 10 feet from the ground.

A specific form accompanies each box, enabling monitors to record dates, times, weather conditions, and the coming and going of dark-eyed juncos and both mountain and black-capped chickadees. Ideally, monitors will record observations weekly to a few times a month, until the end of April.

As mentioned, the roosting boxes project is the third of six, single-day ecological assignments the local Audubon chapter will fulfill by the end of May 2009. The final three will be announced in the coming weeks or months, and all six projects are being funded by a $7,000 grant the chapter received from TogetherGreen in June, as part of its nationwide Volunteer Days program.

Announced in March, TogetherGreen is an environmental alliance between the National Audubon Society and Toyota. A $20 million Toyota grant — the largest Audubon has received in its 103-year history — will support TogetherGreen for five years, which, in turn, will fund conservation projects, train environmental leaders and offer volunteer opportunities to significantly benefit the environment.

All Audubon meetings, field trips and events are free and open to the public. For more information on the roosting boxes project, other Volunteer Days events, TogetherGreen, or Weminuche Audubon Society meetings and membership, contact Weminuche Audubon Society President Susan Halabrin at (970) 749-6143, or shalabrin@aol.com.

chuck@pagosasun.com