Bluebird Advocate: Dr. Bill Zitek Shines in our Client Spotlight
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We all light up when we see flashes of brilliant bluebird feathers as these songbirds fly across our field of vision. It’s hard to fathom that in the late 1960’s those beautiful creatures were almost extinct due to habitat loss, invasive species and use of DDT. Through the hard work of ordinary people, the comeback of the North American bluebird is a true grass roots success story.
Fast forward to April of 2021: William E. Zitek, DVM joins the Presidential Team of the North Carolina Bluebird Society (NCBS.) With the mission of the NCBS to “support activities that foster the resurgence of bluebirds and other native cavity nesting birds in our home area”, this new role for Bill is a continuation of a lifelong effort of working to preserve habitat and restore species diversity. As a veterinarian in New York State, Bill treated many wildlife species including bald eagles, ospreys, and foxes. Upon retirement, this experience led him to become a Trustee on the board of the Nature Conservancy’s Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island, where one of his projects was to establish and then monitor a trail of 60 bluebird nest boxes, as well as to start a purple martin colony.
Why are nest boxes important? Bluebirds and cavity nesting birds such as chickadees, brown-headed nuthatch, and titmice traditionally nest in wooden fence posts and dead trees. With the loss of farmland and other natural habitat, they have no place to build their nests. The NCBS is very active in promoting nest boxes not only for individuals to set up in their yards, but also in creating and monitoring nest box trails which can be located on golf courses, hospital and school grounds, and parks.
The North Carolina Bluebird Society is represented throughout the state by County Coordinators. Bill’s task as co-President is to organize the coordinators and provide educational material and programs.
As a result of the efforts carried out by Bill and so many other bluebird advocates starting in the early 70’s, the number of bluebirds has been able to rebound about 7% each year, so that today there is a strong vibrant population. Nevertheless, due to continuing habitat loss, it is even more important that this conservation effort continue.
For more information on bluebirds and native cavity nesting birds, and how you can get involved, please visit the website of the North Carolina Bluebird Society: https://www.ncbluebird.org/
Bluebird Nest Box Tip: While we provide nest boxes for bluebirds, the success of the project requires effective monitoring during the nesting season. Monitoring is the weekly opening of the nest boxes to check on the progress of the eggs, nestlings and ultimately the fledglings.
Habitat Tip: Bluebirds eat about 70% insects / 30% fruit and berries. When landscaping your yard, choose native plants that attract the insects for the bluebirds to eat.
Bonnie Mole is Client Service and Communications Manager at Townsend Asset Management Corp. Email: Bonnie@AssetMgr.com