When bluebirds return to New York after migration in late March, they will have about five new homes in Saratoga State Park.
Webelos II Cub Scouts from Pack 83 in Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake donated 10 birdhouses to install at the park Sunday, Feb. 3. Of the 10 houses, only five will be occupied by bluebirds, said Barb Treiber from the state Bluebird Association, the other houses will most likely be used by tree swallows.
The boys built the houses over several months with the help of Dave Bennett, who allowed the Scouts to use his workshop. Bennett is also a scout leader in Burnt Hills.
It’s a good tactile project for children to work on because it allows them to see the results over time, said Allison Schweizer, an educator for Saratoga Spa State Park.
No bluebirds have yet been sighted in the park, said Schweizer.
Schweizer said the previous houses were not maintained or placed in the correct spots, so she’s hoping the Scouts’ houses will help to bring the state bird back to the park.
The Scouts completed the project to achieve their World Conservation Award, which is an international award. The boys can receive this honor only once in their Cub Scouting career. During their project, the boys also received the Forester, Naturalist and Outdoorsman activity badges.
`I was bound and determined to get this badge for all my Scouts,` said Webelos II den leader Claudine Jones Rafferty.
`I’m not doing this only for the birds,` said Scout Evan Rafferty. `I’m doing it for the future, because people might never get to see a real bluebird.`
He continued, `I’ve seen a bluebird, but I want to make sure others get to see them too.`
The boys met with Treiber and Schweizer several times during the project to collect facts and organize the project.
Although they will cross over into Boy Scouts next week, the boys hope to come back to the park in the spring, and see if their houses are occupied by bluebirds.
`You will have been an integral part of brining bluebirds, the state bird, back to Saratoga Spa State Park,` said Jones Rafferty.
Scout Trevor Tuxill said, `I’m doing this because I want to help out. Because when we’re dead, and the younger ones don’t see a bluebird, it will be our fault.`
Jones Rafferty said, `The project would not have been possible with all the help of all the volunteers, and parent support.“