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Doing a job that’s for the birds, kids were swinging hammers Wednesday afternoon at Coupeville Elementary School.

But this job wasn’t just for any birds. Fifth-graders were building birdhouses that will be placed throughout the area in hopes of repopulating the western bluebird on Whidbey Island.

The students spent the afternoon hammering and learning how the basic birdhouse design features, such as having room to drain and making sure the house is fastened shut, provide a safe place for the western blue bird to nest.

They learned how the birds prefer to live and why the birdhouses they are building are important for the birds’ future here.

“They live in cavities in trees woodpeckers made,” Karly Prosser said after she and her classmates, Kacie Kiel, Haleigh Deasy, and Hailey Hammer, had finished their birdhouse.

In addition to building something that helps birds, the project taught the students teamwork and simple carpentry skills.

“We learned how to work together and the basic rules of building,” said fifth-grader Molly Bryant, who was working with classmates on the project.

Each of the four fifth-grade classes at Coupeville Elementary School spent time Wednesday building the bird abodes. Some of the groups named their houses once they finished them.

Second and third graders also chipped in with the building effort. In all, the students built about 65 birdhouses.

Sometime next month, the students will venture out to place the birdhouses in areas ranging from Ebey’s Landing to the Au Sable Institute, which will hopefully boost the number of the birds on Whidbey Island. The bird dwelling units will be placed on poles and fenceposts throughout the area in hopes the birds will find them comfy places for their families.

“They are going extinct and leaving Whidbey Island,” one of Bryant’s classmates exclaimed.

Fifth-grade teacher Linda Josek said the birdhouse project was incorporated into lesson plans about animal life cycles. Students also learned about bird conservation and habitat protection. The teachers adopted the project when officials from the Pacific Education Institute visited last fall.

Coupeville Elementary School students are planning to continue with the project after the birdhouses go up.

Erica Baker, education consultant with the Pacific Education Institute, said students will monitor the birdhouses in May to see if they are being used. Then they will maintain and clean them just before the next nesting season begins. She hopes the students would take on other projects in the future, including pollination homes for bees and prairie restoration projects.

Project Bluebird, as it is called, is a cooperative effort between the institute, The Nature Conservancy, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Whidbey Audubon Society and the Au Sable Institute.

The projects has been a success in Thurston County, where more than 150 birdhouses have been placed on private and public land.

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