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For the Birds

May 14, 2015

Category: Environmental Science, Students

by Rebecca Rider

eli-birdbox.jpgLocal children and the Center for the Environment at Catawba College have teamed up to provide new homes for the birds that frequent the Fred Stanback Ecological Preserve near the Center's building on campus.

The mind behind the project is Catawba College senior and Environmental Steward Eli Wittum, who says he got the idea from summer programs run by Lowe's Home Improvement.

Lowe's lets kids build birdhouses from scratch to take home, but Wittum thought the children might enjoy having their crafts placed in the preserve where they could hike the trails in search of the house they made. With help from Shaver Wood Product in Cleveland, the Center for the Environment, Horizons Unlimited, Dan Nicholas Park, the LandTrust for Central North Carolina and Lowe's Home Improvement, he set up shop at Downtown Catawba during Salisbury's Friday Nights Out.

The booth ran during the March and April Nights Out, and the kids built about 36 birdhouses. Most were modeled after the classic Eastern Bluebird house with a modified entrance to suit any bird, but there are also a few houses custom-made for Southern Flying Squirrels and Eastern Screech Owls.

Wittum installed the houses at the end of April and says that many are already in use. The location of each house is mapped so that children can go hunting for their birdhouses in the preserve, which is one of the goals of the project, Wittum says — to foster a love of nature.

"It encourages the family to go out in the woods," Wittum says.


The Center for the Environment was founded in 1996 to educate the college community and the public about environmental stewardship and sustainability, provide value-added education for students through interaction with thought leaders and opportunities for experiential learning, and bring diverse people and groups together to catalyze sustainable solutions to our most persistent environmental challenges. For more information, visit or

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