Why It Matters” – March Winner!!

Jim Osborn’s post of the Bluebird Box Project at Crab Orchard NWR, IL, received the most likes in March. Jim wrote that thanks to this project at the Refuge, the species is making a comeback. Jim shared photos of Volunteer Rick Whitecotton, who along with his wife Ruie regularly monitors 19 of approximately 100 boxes on the Refuge. Other volunteers monitor the rest. One of the photos shows a nest with 6 new eggs! What a great project to help this beautiful bird!

  • Bluebird eggs in a nest
  • nesting box with a bluebird nest
  • person checking a bluebird nesting box
  • rock bluff
  • Jeep driving along dirt road through a forest
  • People bird watching
  • people fishing at a pier
  • Building

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, located in southern Illinois, was established in 1947. The Refuge’s 44,000 acres of land and water contain a wide diversity of flora and fauna. Major habitat types on the refuge include hardwood forest, agricultural land, grazing units, brushland, wetlands, and lakes. The Refuge provides significant resting areas for migratory birds utilizing the Mississippi Flyway. Wintering numbers of Canada Geese can peak at 200,000. A total of 700 plant species, 245 bird species, 33 mammal species, 63 fish species, and 44 reptile and amphibian species have been documented on the refuge.

The western 24,000 acres of the Refuge provide a wide range of recreational opportunities and include a 4,050-acre wilderness area. The eastern portion, 20,000 acres, is a wildlife sanctuary, and public use is limited. Industrial activities on the Refuge range from manufacturing and storage facilities to administrative offices. Many buildings now housing industries were used in the manufacturing of explosives during World War II, and they are still used for military ordnance production today. The concrete igloos built for munition storage are now leased to private industry for storage of many types of products.

Established in 2000, the Friends of Crab Orchard Refuge have worked collaboratively with the Refuge staff and the community to fundraise, provide volunteer services and support Refuge programs. The Friends are dedicated to enhancing use of the Refuge for wildlife conservation, conservation, recreation agriculture and industry. The Friends have over 180 members and operate the Woodland Gift Shop. They also support the Pollinator Gardens at the Refuge, eradication of invasive botanical species on the Refuge and creation of new habitat. The Friends have also purchased kayaks, archery equipment, picnic tables and more for the Refuge.

Congratulation Jim and the Friends of Crab Orchard NWR!