A major problem facing Florida’s endangered birds is habitat loss, and the Alachua Conservation Trust is working to combat that.
Thirty new nest boxes were installed April 17 at Little Orange Creek Preserve. These nest boxes are used to increase populations of birds that have limited nesting cavities in trees, according to the FWC’s website.
Deforestation and development have reduced the amount of trees, so there is a scarcity in nesting habitats for birds.
Chris Burney, project manager for the trust, a non-profit organization, said the boxes were specifically designed for the wood duck and the southeastern American kestrel, but any nesting bird can use them. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission consider both birds threatened species.
“I think the kestrel box program will have success in re-establishing birds in parts where they have vacated,” Burney said.
According to the Wildlife Habitat Management Institute, the kestrel’s value lies in the role it plays in keeping insect and small rodent populations in check.
In 2009, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, a department within the FWC, created a statewide nest box-monitoring project because of a decline in bird species.
About 15 nest boxes were installed on Alachua Conservation Trust lands after the program’s start in 2009.
With the acquisition of 1,000 new acres along the Alachua and Putnam county line, the conservation trust is now looking to expand the number of nest boxes available for birds.
Karl Miller, the FWC’s avian coordinator for land birds, instituted the original project in 12 North Central Florida counties, including Alachua County.
Last fall, staff and volunteers built 30 nest boxes.
Since the project was started the boxes have shown to be effective in increasing kestrel numbers, but a lot still needs to be done to improve the quality and quantity of suitable habitats, Miller said.
Volunteers from the community are encouraged to come out to the sites and assist staff in installing the new boxes.