Birds flock to local Bissell bluebird boxes
by Morgan Smith
Birds throughout Ballantyne can be found flocking from birdhouse to birdhouse thanks to Bissell Companies and their Bluebird Box Nesting Program that started several years ago.
The more than 60 boxes, which are occupied year round depending on weather, are an effort by the company to help sustain the environment and its inhabitants throughout the area’s growing construction and development.
The program, which started around eight years ago at The Golf Club at Ballantyne, expanded in 2010 to the Ballantyne Corporate Park. Ryan Newell, Bissell land services landscape superintendent, said the company started building the boxes to provide safe habitats for nesting birds.
“I think anytime there is construction or development… there is going to be cause and effect related to wildlife,” he said. “One thing we wanted to focus on were nesting birds.”
Bissell works with the Audubon Sanctuary Program on the project, which is an effort between the United States Golf Association and Audubon International. The program promotes ecologically sound land management and the conservation of natural resources, hoping to extend beyond the golf course and into the community.
Although the boxes are called Eastern Bluebird boxes, any nesting birds can occupy the houses. Newell said so far, the boxes seem to have at least 90 to 100 percent occupancy throughout the year. Typically, he said, each box has three to four nesting cycles a year, meaning different birds occupy the house during their time of need.
“We go out three to four times a year to do maintenance on the boxes. (We see) if the boxes have been inhabited by birds and if it hasn’t,” Newell said. If boxes show no sign of inhabitance, Newell said his team tries to fix the problem, sometimes by rotating the boxes away from the sun.
All the boxes are made in house and include custom nameplates from the box sponsors. Newell said in one day, he can typically construct around 10 boxes. Also available from the company is an interactive map with locations of the boxes.
“What we’re doing is just providing a habitat for the birds within their natural habitat,” Newell said. “Instead of building in a tree, they use the box because it’s safe. We think the program is great and it’s been working.”
Bissell Companies also is trying to preserve the community and the environment by incorporating native flowers across Ballantyne. The company expects to see recently planted sunflowers pop up soon.
“We created pocket gardens with wild flowers – we really push for native planting,” Newell said.
“I think our main approach to what land services does is that we take great responsibility to be land stewards. We try to work closely with other agencies. The landscapes are great – they are living, breathing environments,” he added.
Both tenants and community members can sponsor the boxes. Each box costs $40, cash or check only, which covers the cost of materials and a plaque for the box inscribed with a company or individual name. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you or your company is interested in sponsoring a bluebird-nesting box in Ballantyne this year. View the map of the boxes at www.go-ballantyne.com, click on the Land Services tab and follow the link to the bluebird box map.