A recent story in the Star Tribune highlights how St. Olaf College’s 350 acres of Natural Lands not only serve as a hands-on learning laboratory for students, but also play an important role in conservation efforts for native species like the bluebird.
“The 143-year-old Lutheran college is part of a greater survival story to rebuild Eastern bluebird populations that had declined in the 1960s and ’70s due to loss of savanna — their preferred habitat — and competition from nonnative birds,” notes Star Tribune writer Shannon Prather.
Since 1989 the college has conducted extensive natural habitat restoration projects on hundreds of acres of land it owns adjacent to the campus. This includes a bluebird trail comprised of 64 specially designed birdhouses through woodlands and prairies.
“Throughout the spring and summer, student biologists count and monitor eggs and fledglings. Student workers also serve as housekeepers, clearing out old nests and shooing away nonnative house sparrows from taking up residence in this prime real estate,” writes Prather.