Andrew Stiles stopped in for worship and lunch with his Dad, Don, at Cross Connections this past Thursday before heading out to yet another elementary school to help children build bird houses. “Every spring, I build 2000 birdhouses every Spring with Grade ones all over the city, giving them the skills to use hammers, files, drills and saws to construct a box for swallows, chickadees, wrens and House sparrows,” says Andrew.
Before the children get into the building project, Andrew starts with a Powerpoint on Alberta birds that includes the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Not to hurt our humble brethren [the birds] is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission: To be of service to them whenever they require it”
Andrew attributes his life-long interest in saving the Mountain Blue Bird to a trip to Inglewood Bird Sanctuary in grade four and to his Dad, Don. Learning that transplanted starlings and house sparrows had displaced native birds nesting sites, he started building new homes of of scrap plywood — 50 in the first winter. Later he and Don were part of networking fellow enthusiasts together to form the Calgary Area Nest-box Monitors, maintaining 5000 boxes that produce over 10,000 young birds each year.
Don Stiles plays a key role in compiling the data collected by the monitors each year. Don’s monitoring area is in the Red Deer Lake area just south of the city. The Monitor’s job begins in March and April to repair and replace nesting boxes. Through til August, the monitor will then be monitoring the number of eggs, banding adult birds and baby birds. Don says his boxes tend to get 25 per cent Blue Birds and 75 per cent Tree Swallows. Don is willing to take interested people along on his monitoring trail. You may also want to check out Andrew’s Calgary Birdman Blog.