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Students preserve a home for birds

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Joseph Plappert, wildlife biology senior, Rebekah Rylander, PhD Aquatic Resources, and Phillip Doiron, wildlife biology senior, are currently working on a bird nesting project. Numerous nesting boxes around Texas State campus are being studied and observed to help better understand the effects of ongoing change on birds and their habitat.
Photo by: Brandon Valencia | Staff Photographer

By Felipe Partida

A $1,000 grant was made last November to The Ornithological Society at Texas State to build bird nest boxes around campus and throughout San Marcos.

This project involved students and faculty in the biology department.

Rebekah Rylander, graduate student and current president of TOSTS, applied for the grant last semester with the help of Dr. Clay Green, biology professor.

The grant was funded by Texas State University’s environmental fee from student tuition. The grant covered the tools and supplies needed to spread the bird nest boxes

Two undergraduate students have been key roles in this project and have had the opportunity to lead it because of a proposal they came up with. Wildlife biology seniors  Joseph Plappert and Phillip Doiron will receive an undergraduate research scholarship this semester for their efforts in studying bird nesting habitats.

The goal of this project is to study habitats in urban settings and observe correlations, Plappert said.

“Habitat loss is the number one reason for species to become extinct,” Plappert said. “There is construction in all directions, and a lot of those old trees are being cut down for safety concern. The cavities birds usually nest in for generations might not be there anymore.”

Plappert wants the project to become a larger study, increase its sample size and repeat over time.

The professor overseeing the undergraduate students’ studies is Dr. Scott Walter, biology lecturer. He wants the student body to be aware of birds and the nest boxes.

“They are everywhere; people just don’t see them,” Walter said. “You don’t have to be a biology student to appreciate wildlife.”

This project helps supplement cavity-nesting birds in an urban area due to loss of natural tree hollows, Walter said.

TOSTS and volunteers put 40 bird nest boxes on campus and 28 throughout San Marcos. The society is monitoring them weekly, and Walter has his students collecting data on the bird nest boxes to learn from first-hand experience.

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