Ashby Ponds Residents Protect and Support Bluebirds in Loudoun County

Residents have built, installed, and regularly monitor twelve bluebird nesting boxes locally

(Ashburn, Va.) - For five years residents at Ashby Ponds have maintained a meticulous record-keeping program that supports bluebirds in the area and assists in helping bluebird fledglings 'take flight' on the path to survival.  This year, they expanded their support by donating and monitoring bluebird nesting boxes at nearby One Loudoun, with whom Ashby Ponds has formed a strong partnership since the development's earliest days in Ashburn.  Residents at Ashby Ponds report that this year, the bluebird nesting season at both Ashby Ponds and One Loudoun did yield nearly two dozen healthy bluebird fledglings. Since 2010, six bluebird boxes have been installed around the 132-acre campus at Ashby Ponds.  Those boxes were built from scratch by residents in the community's woodworking club, which keeps busy with various projects at Ashby Ponds in their dedicated woodworking shop.  Since their installation, a group of residents began a detailed bluebird box monitoring program by taking note of the visitors to the boxes.  During the season, they monitor the cycle of nest building, the laying, incubating, and hatching of eggs, and the box fledglings.  For the past five nesting seasons, the group reports that 51 bluebirds have successfully hatched and fled the bluebird boxes at Ashby Ponds.  In addition, the group reports that 48 tree swallows have also hatched and fled from the boxes; tree swallows are often drawn to bluebird boxes, according to the group.  This year, Ashby Ponds saw the survival of eight bluebird fledglings and 19 tree swallows. In 2014, the Ashby Ponds community donated an additional six bluebird boxes to One Loudoun for installation at Central Park.  More than two dozen Ashby Ponds woodworkers and bluebird box monitors were on hand for the One Loudoun Barn dedication in May, where Bill May, Vice President of Miller & Smith and Managing Director of One Loudoun, thanked them for their efforts and generosity.  The bluebird boxes installed at One Loudoun were erected in sites specifically selected by a representative of the Virginia Bluebird Society and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.  Ashby Ponds residents spent the nesting season monitoring the One Loudoun boxes and were happy to report that ten bluebirds did successfully hatch and flee the bluebird boxes at Central Park. "Our monitors for the six One Loudoun boxes thoroughly enjoyed this activity and kept careful notes on the boxes," said Ashby Ponds resident Nancy Eisenbise, who helps to coordinate the resident bluebird monitoring program at both sites.  "A few of our monitors were 'first-timers' and were delighted with how quickly the bluebirds found the boxes at One Loudoun." According to the residents at Ashby Ponds, a major challenge to bluebird monitoring is keeping predators away from the boxes; predators may include raccoons, snakes, and even house sparrows.  With this in mind, each box at One Loudoun was specifically adorned with both snake and raccoon guards, which helps provide protection to the bluebirds and offers a better chance of survival. About Ashby Ponds: Ashby Ponds, one of 18 retirement communities managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia (approximately 30 miles west of Washington, D.C.). The community is home to over 750 residents and has over 120 resident-run and resident-driven clubs and groups, an indoor pool, a fitness club, transportation services, 24-hour security, and flexible dining options. More information about Ashby Ponds can be found at www.ericksonliving.com.