Wheatley River Improvement Group Inc.
Increasing Nesting Opportunities Throughout the Wheatley River Watershed
The Wheatley River Improvement Group (WRIG) is a non-government, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and management of the Wheatley River, Cymbria, Chapel Creek, Oyster Bed Bridge, Hornes Creek and Luke's Creek Watersheds. Human activities, such as land development and intensive agriculture, have contributed to a loss of nesting habitat for PEI's cavity nesting birds. This habitat enhancement project supported two native cavity nesting bird species, Tree Swallows and American Kestrels, through:
An increase in optimal nesting opportunities throughout WRIG's watershed areas
Increased community awareness and involvement in wildlife conservation, and
The development of a program to monitor and maintain the nesting boxes.
This project was able to fund the tools and supplies necessary for the construction, installation. and maintenance of 24 nesting boxes (12 Tree Swallow and 12 American Kestrel) following species-specific designs obtained from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Holland College Wildlife Conservation Technology Program. The main structural differences between the nesting boxes are volume and entrance hole diameter; Kestrels are larger than Tree Swallows (3" vs. 1 3/8"). The Wheatley River and associated watershed areas were assessed, and optimal nesting habitat was identified for each species.
Our project reached over 1200 individuals via email, social media, newspaper and mail, bringing awareness to the importance of these bird species and how we can support their local populations with nesting boxes.
Furthermore, WRIG's photo contest highlighted the project with a bird category, whose winning photo can be seen in the project gallery.
The project was met with fantastic community support; four volunteers helped in the construction process and over 30 local landowners connected with WRIG to discuss the placement of nesting boxes on the property. Twelve American Kestrel boxes were installed throughout the watershed areas, each on different properties. The Tree Swallow nesting box locations have been confirmed, but the installation will have to wait until the ground thaws, as the boxes are on metal posts. There was so much interest that an additional 3 Wood Duck boxes and 6 Tree Swallow boxes, from previous projects, have been designated to properties in the Wheatley River and surrounding areas.
Furthermore, WRIG staff developed a nesting box management plan to facilitate the monitoring and maintenance of nesting boxes within our watershed areas. Fifteen nesting boxes that had been previously installed within the watershed were identified and recorded, to ensure their continues management. Infographics were also created for distribution to nesting box recipients and other community members.