• Bluebird nesting box project a go for entire fourth-grade class

    For more than 20 years, Marion-Walker Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Matt Burrows has brought a project to his class to benefit the local bluebird population. And even though school is physically closed as a state-mandated order to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, Burrows is still finding a way to make the project a reality.

    This time, it’s open to the entire fourth-grade student population at Bellefonte Area School District.

    Each year, Burrows teams up with the Pennsylvania Game Commission that donates bluebird nesting boxes for students to make at school and then bring home to place in their yards as habitat for bluebirds.

    With help from Brian Stone at the state Game Commission’s nursery in Howard, 189 nesting kits were donated this spring – one for every fourth-grader at Bellefonte, Benner, Marion-Walker and Pleasant Gap elementary schools. Burrows worked to put student names on each kit and deliver them to every elementary school in the district. This comes in addition to providing science curriculum on the choice boards to correlate with the project.

    “I just thought it would be sad to lose that this year with everything going on, but maybe a better way to do it would be to reach out to every fourth grader and allow them the opportunity to build one as opposed to just Marion-Walker,” Burrows said. “It gives kids some hands-on life science and also (brings) families together.”

    In the past, families of the Marion-Walker students were encouraged to drop by school to help with the in-class construction project to put the nesting boxes together.

    “If we can get every kit out there, then that increases the likelihood of survivability for the bluebirds because they have lost a lot from habitat destruction, and they struggle to find nesting spots and compete with invasive birds, and we’re helping the bluebirds to survive,” Burrows added.

    More than $2,000 worth of kits were donated.

    Starting May 26, fourth-grade families can pick up a kit at their child’s attending school. Families will be on the honor system with pick-up efforts. Each kit will have the name of the student already on it. Kits come with supplies, including extra screws. Students, however, will need a screwdriver.

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    For more information, contact Burrows at mburrows@basd.net. He has access to additional supplies in case students split wood while making the nesting box.

    To learn more about the project, visit this link from 2019: Bluebird nesting boxes. Students are also encouraged to take a photo of their nesting box to be added to a photo gallery online.

    See this video on how to construct the nesting boxes: How to make nesting boxes

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    *Nesting boxes being loaded into Burrows' truck

    *By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD