Projects benefit bluebirds, disabled falcon
By Scott Bellile
Both of the latest Scouts to earn their Eagle Merit Badges for Boy Scout Troop 59 devoted their volunteerism to helping Wisconsin’s feathered fliers.
Trevor Gardner and Clayton Wegener, both of New London, achieved the Eagle Scout rank in December after completing their own service projects.
Trevor Gardner, son of Floyd and Jennifer Gardner, turned locals’ backyards into bluebird havens by helping them make one addition.
Clayton Wegener, son of Gary and Robin Wegener, built a cozy cage for a small falcon that will never fly again.
A home for bluebirds
Trevor Gardner completed his Eagle Scout project on May 7 last year for the Winnebago Audubon Society. The birdhouses he helped families build aim to help the bluebird population by increasing their nesting abilities.
Birdhouses weren’t his original plan. He had a different construction project lined up for a local retail business that supports a volunteer organization. The business backed out before Gardner started.
Jennifer Gardner said her son took it hard. She had to motivate him to get him on his feet again.
Trevor Gardner said he pondered a number of alternative projects, but “all of them seemed either massively complex or didn’t seem like they’d be accepted” because they would benefit individuals more than organizations.
He turned to the birdhouses idea. In early 2016, he began meeting with Winnebago Audubon Society to develop a plan.
“The main thing I wanted to do is build something,” Gardner said. “I’ve built birdhouses in the past and bat houses, and they’re not that hard to construct.”
While constructing was not the challenge, Gardner said he had to improve his time management skills so he could meet his deadlines. He and his fellow Scouts had to make 50 bluebird house kits before Oshkosh Bird Fest.
“It was a little bit stressful working on it because I was on such a tight time limit, but in the end it was kind of worth it,” Gardner said.
The birdhouse kits were distributed at the festival on May 7, 2016. There Gardner taught families how to assemble the kits.
David Misterek of the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin said he was pleased with the “outstanding” work Gardner and his troop did.
“It was so satisfying to see all of the young boys and girls walking around with the birdhouses slung over their shoulders or proudly carried in their arms and huge smiles on their faces,” Misterek said.
Helping a disabled merlin
The Feather Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in New London treats birds that survive all sorts of misfortunes: Flying into windows or cars, electrocution, attacks by predators, gunshots.
The 6-by-6 enclosure Clayton Wegener built will protect a 2-year-old merlin falcon as she lives out her years at The Feather.
Wegener brought up his idea in December 2014 to Patricia Fisher, who owns The Feather.
“I’ve been there previously whenever she had these bird [programs] and I figured she might need a metal cage for another bird because she usually gets those quite often,” Wegener said.
With the help of about four Scouts and five adults, Wegener built the cage for Melia to keep her safe from other animals when she stays outside.
“I liked the fact that I did something good for a great person and for my community,” Wegener said.
Due to Melia’s dislocated shoulder she suffered from flying into a car, the small falcon is non-releasable, meaning she has a permanent home in The Feather.
Fisher said veterinarian James Ziegler at Wolf River Veterinary Clinic saved Melia without having to amputate her wing. She now uses it to keep her balance.
Melia currently lives indoors where it’s warm. Fisher will move Melia into the new 6-by-6 cage this spring. The move will free up Melia’s old 8-by-10 cage for the next injured bird to come in.
“She’s little. She doesn’t weigh that much, so she doesn’t need that,” Fisher said of Melia’s 8-by-10. “It’s overkill.”
Robin Wegener recalled the gratitude Fisher expressed after receiving the finished product.
“The end result was great and the recipient was very thankful for the project. She thanked him several times,” Robin Wegener said.
The cage is an asset to Melia and The Feather, Fisher said.
“Anytime a Scout comes out and build something, it’s worthwhile,” Pat Fisher said. “They build you what you want and they build it the way you want it.”