“Defenders of Wildlife strives to connect communities with conservation projects that are meaningful and make a difference for wildlife. We take our responsibility to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards seriously. We are always excited to connect with young people who have a passion for wildlife conservation. The following project is a great example of this in action.”
– Ben Prater, Defenders of Wildlife Southeast Program Director and Asheville, North Carolina, Scoutmaster
Becoming an Eagle Scout is a long and challenging journey but has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. One of the final steps in the process is to complete a service project in your community. As I explored various options, Ben Prater approached me and my mom during a scout meeting and suggested building flying squirrel nest boxes for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. This was perfect. I’ve always loved animals and my dream is to work with them in my career. Christine Kelly, a biologist at the commission, informed me that while they didn’t have a current need for flying squirrel boxes, they did need northern saw-whet owl nesting boxes – and so the building began!
Overall, the building process was extremely smooth. Christine explained the boxes needed to be built with either untreated white pine or cedar. She also gave me some basic instructions, to help ensure the box and opening were the correct size for these owls. Northern saw-whet owls are the smallest owl in eastern North America! Adults are between seven and eight inches long and weigh up to five ounces.
Several of my fellow scouts, as well as some friends and family, came together in early August for my project day. I led them and together we worked for about five hours and produced 15 boxes. Throughout this process, I learned it’s key to take your time building for the best possible results.
After the boxes were done, Christine decided to hang some of the boxes on Grandfather Mountain, some in the black mountains and the rest in reserve. The commission hung most of them, but I had the honor of hanging five boxes on Grandfather Mountain.
Northern saw-whet owls are an adorable and mysterious owl. One of their calls sounds like a saw being sharpened on a whetting stone, hence their name. Building boxes for this project taught me a lot about the saw-whet owl and there’s still much more to learn. Once we learn about the creatures around us, we feel more connected to them, like it’s our duty to protect them. This was an amazing project and I recommend this kind of hands-on stewardship for any scout, wildlife organization or family to take on.
Northern saw-whet owls are currently not a species of concern, but it’s important we do what we can to make sure they have adequate habitat to thrive. I’m proud my Eagle Scout project will make a lasting difference for saw-whet owls.
This blog post was written by Asheville, N.C., Eagle Scout Colin Fowler