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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Middle Creek and Blue Marsh, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

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Middle Creek and Blue Marsh, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA
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Registered: December 2020
City/Town/Province: Lititz
Posts: 1
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My name is Connor and I am a Junior at Warwick Highschool in Lancaster, PA. I am also an Eagle Scout. I have always had an affinity for the natural world and, because of this, I felt that my Eagle Scout Project should resemble my passion in some way instead of following the common pattern of building picnic tables and park benches that is seen in my troop.

From 1966 to 2014, the Kestrel population in the Piedmont region has dropped by a dramatic 73%. Meanwhile the number of barn owls in the State of Pennsylvania have dropped a frightening 53% from 1984 to 2008. This is important because Southern Eastern Pa, where these two regions overlap, has a predominately agricultural based economy and require these two birds of prey to not only maintain their ecosystems but also to hunt down the abundant population of mice and voles which ravage fields every crop cycle. Because of their importance to the area and dwindling numbers, I decide to build and install three barn owl and two kestrel boxes each at both Blue Marsh and Middle Creek Conservatories in Lancaster PA. In total, six barn owl boxes and five kestrel boxes were built and 10 of those were installed.

Working with Dan Mummert, a Pennsylvania State Biologist, we began to brainstorm project ideas that fell under his jurisdiction as a state biologist who primarily works with birds. I've always loved working in the outdoors and we eventually reached this project after I was able to shadow him banning owlets for a day.

I started work on this project in January and I began to organize fundraiser and gather the materials necessary for the completion of this project. I also continued to meet with Mr. Mummert about the logistics of the project (such as figuring out how to move the boxes to the installation sites and mapping out the habitats and boxes positionings which would have the most success at attracting mating pairs). Around this time I also began cutting wood for both boxes at school. After cutting out all of the pieces necessary to build the kestrel boxes, I was able to bring them home and build them with a team of about 13 people in early February. The project saw a delay between February and June as the wood was in the School woodshop and school was closed for the Pandemic. In order to decrease the risk of infection, the remaining six barn owl boxes were built by my dad and I and we were set install the boxes in mid August. On our first installation day, August 14th, a team of five was gathered to install three barn owl boxes and two kestrel boxes at Middle Creek. Since Middle Creek Conservatory is located on marsh land, a lot of our time was spent removing a good two feet of clay and muck from each pre dug hole which had filled in the night before. In the field, we also drilling the brackets together which held the boxes to the 14 foot poles before hoisting theme up into the air. Then, on the 21st, a new team of four installed two more kestrel boxes and three more barn owl boxes and Blue Marsh Conservatory. We were lucky that the shale and slate of Blue Marsh was more conducive to a smaller team than the soil of Middle Creek had been. The boxes were also attached to their respective poles in the file on this day too. There was one remaining kestrel box that was built but never installed because they didn't have a suitable spot currently, and that ended up being handed off to the Game Commission on the same day.

Given that the boxes went up out of breeding season; there are currently no nests. However these boxes are intended to be used for upwards of ten years and as such I expect both these conservatories to see new population grow in upcoming years. Regardless, simply the act putting these boxes up might draw the attention of others who will be driven to take up a similar cause.

This project was important to me as I hope that it stands as a good example of what I will be able to accomplish in the world of ecology. I thoroughly enjoyed working in the field during this project and this experience has helped me to visualize my path forward in life. I hope, at least on a person level, to be able to complete similar projects that have big impacts on both my community and the natural world as a whole. This project has driven me to want to do more with the natural world, whether that be inciting change on the ground or via my actions with more project like this. I though enjoyed this project and I hope that it will play but a small part in invigorating the already fractured populations of these two great avian species.
Date: December 31, 2020 Views: 1526 File size: 19.3kb, 1739.4kb : 3024 x 4032
Hours Volunteered: 149.7
Volunteers: 25
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16 & 15 to 47
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