|New Record Set for Bluebirds in JCPRD Parks|
A new record of 1,609 bluebird fledglings were recorded in Johnson County Park and Recreation District parks during 2002. This is up from 1,327 fledglings during 2001.
A fledgling is a young bluebird developed enough to leave its nesting box. The District's bluebird numbers are reported to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the North American Bluebird Society.
"We had more nesting boxes and just a more productive season," Superintendent of Park Safety and Interpretation Mike Ray said of this year's bluebird numbers. "Those numbers would have been higher, but we lost a number of birds in late summer due to the extensive drought and heat. For whatever reason, it was just a better year overall, but it could have been even better."
By the end of the season, there were an estimated 312 boxes being monitored on District property. This number compares to 282 boxes in place at the end of the 2001 season. The majority of the District's bluebird nesting boxes are on the Mill Creek Streamway Park and at Shawnee Mission Park, but there are also boxes in Thomas S. Stoll Memorial Park, Heritage and Ernie Miller parks and at Kill Creek Park.
"We would like to continue to expand because there's no doubt we have more land on which we can do this," Ray said. "The limiting factor for us right now are citizens willing to step forward and volunteer their time to monitor a trail or a select number of nesting boxes."
While the District has a handful of dedicated volunteers for this program, several of whom have been involved for a number of years, there are several areas in which the bluebird program could be expanded if volunteer help were available, Ray said. This could include Heritage Park, both golf courses, and the new segment of the Kill Creek Streamway Park.
For volunteers, participation in the program is a sizable commitment for the bluebird season, which runs roughly from April through September, he said.
"Generally, we ask the individuals to take one day a week to run a trail and open every box," Ray explained. "We also ask these people to take a day in the Spring and the Fall to go through and do some basic maintenance on the boxes and make any repairs, put on some wood preservatives, and clean up the insides pretty well."
Persons interested in volunteering for the bluebird program should contact Superintendent of Park Safety and Interpretation Mike Ray at (913) 438-7275 ext. 385.