For the birds

Posted: April 19, 2013 - 1:23pm

It’s not often a team can say they “killed two birds with one stone,” but that’s just what Mick Wiest of Environmental Compliance said he and others did.

“Through partnering with the Roads and Ground Department, Sustainability and Stewardship, and Environmental Sciences Division at ORNL, we now have bird boxes posted,” Wiest said of the birdhouses near the native grass area at the New Hope Center.

Mike Ryon, aquatic research scientist at ORNL, said, “The birdhouses are used as a noticeable but attractive guide to indicate mowing edges or the end of a protected zone — the native grass plot.” The 3‑acre native grass area reduces fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions while saving money; it is only mowed (bush-hogged) once a year.

Wiest explained the second advantage of the birdhouses. “Last year, we discussed ways to reduce the mosquito population, primarily due to concerns voiced by security personnel and others,” Wiest said. “The birdhouses are expected to help reduce the nuisance of these insects, and possibly reduce the concern of West Nile virus.”

The birdhouses also provide nesting areas for bluebirds and tree swallows.

Sustainability and Stewardship’s Jan Jackson said, “There are wildflowers in the native grass area too, so it creates a relaxing environment, sustaining the natural habitat and wildlife. We hope the open field will draw in more bluebirds.”

Wiest said the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency suggests placing birdhouses by the end of February. Thanks to this group, the suggested date was met, and come spring and summer, you may want to say thanks for the extra effort in reducing the mosquitos.