The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Posted by undergraduate research assistant Sarelle Caicedo

It’s 6 AM, and while most people are still sleeping at this point, this is the prime time of the day for bird enthusiasts. As an undergraduate senior, who truly enjoys the luxury of a good ‘sleeping in’ I (undergraduate research assistant, Sarelle Caicedo) recently gave up that luxury for a day to meet with vital Sustainable Prisons Project partners Jim Lynch, a Fish and Wildlife Biologist for the Fort Lewis Wildlife Program, and Gary Slater, research director of the Ecostudies Institute.

This meeting was a significant milestone of work to-date with the bird box project.  The goal of the morning was to load Gary’s pick up truck with as many Western Bluebird boxes as possible so he could take the ferry up north to the San Juan Islands and deliver each one to environmentally concerned land owners who requested boxes, as well as the San Juan Preservation Trust.

Because of the stunningly large amount of donated lumber and the willingness of the inmates and staff at Stafford Creek, there was an excess number of Western Bluebird boxes produced! This outcome came as a surprise to all involved, and are SO pleased to have the extra boxes to distribute to individuals eager to support bird conservation.

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Gary Slater showed up with his pickup truck, and on the passenger seat was a small cage with a blanket on it. Inside the cage was a male and female western bluebird, which he was going to take to the San Juan Islands to jumpstart the population. As we arrived at a storage unit near the Fort grounds, it was impressive to see the hundreds of built boxes in storage, ready to be delivered.

As we loaded bird boxes, Jim, Gary and I discussed the future of the bird box project, and that next time boxes are delivered, the whole team may travel together, so we can all see the project from its earliest stages of hauling lumber to the prisons, to its final stages of installing boxes on trees and upright structures.  By ten AM the truck was fully loaded, Gary was ready to go, and Jim offered a brief tour of areas of the Fort where restoration projects are taking place.

It feels good to be a part of the early morning club!

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