News | July 16, 2018

Bluebird hatchlings make their presence known

By DLA Installation Operations Richmond DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

Balancing the needs of the environment with the mission of the installation is a difficult but winnable challenge facing Defense Logistics Agency Installation Operations Richmond’s Environmental Management Division. That was the case with the start of the construction of the installation’s new East Gate on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.

Construction on the gate, and its access road, was planned for mid-May 2018.  However, the construction area runs east of Commander’s Park, within the eastern portion of existing Parking Lot No. 2, before it winds through the mature oak trees located in the area of the installation’s former military quarters, said Jimmy Parrish, chief of the installation’s Environmental Division.

Situated within these oak trees were three blue bird nesting boxes provided by DLA Installation Operations Richmond.  These boxes, as well as several others found throughout the installation, are routinely checked for inhabitants by volunteers Karen Daniel, lead product specialist, Bearings Division, DLA Aviation Supplier Operations and Andrea Conkle, Operations Research Analyst, Analytics Center of Excellence, Strategic Data Services, DLA Information Operations.

Daniel and Conkle give several hours of their own time each month to routinely keep track of the wildlife living on or visiting DSCR, said Parrish.

“As a result of their wildlife expertise, we have been able to verify the presence of such distinguished avian visitors as Green and Great Blue Herons at Parker Pond, several Bald Eagles, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk soaring over our southern wetlands,” he said. “We are very lucky to have them helping us.”   

During the week that construction was to begin, the three boxes located within the oak grove held a combined population of 14 hatchlings, some being only two to three days old.  Blue birds normally require 16 days to fully grow wing feathers large enough to support flight.  To move the nesting boxes too soon would result in the birds’ demise.  

Upon the discovery of the hatchlings, Daniel and Conkle immediately contacted the Environmental Management Division, who reached out to DLA Installation Operations Richmond’s Installation Management Division and to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk Division, who had responsibility for the East Gate contract award and management.  

As the Federal Migratory Bird Act protects these nests from being tampered with until the hatchlings have left on their own abilities, the Corps of Engineers and the contractor were successfully able to negotiate and postpone the planned disturbance within the oak grove and the nesting boxes.     

The delay allowed the hatchlings to mature and leave the three nesting boxes.  “Over the past six years, the nesting boxes within the oak grove have produced 114 chicks,” said Daniel. 

The empty boxes were moved from the oak grove to a safer and more secluded location for next year’s hatchlings.

Construction on the new East Gate that was originally scheduled to begin in mid-May actually began in early June.  The project is expected to be completed in August 2019.