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Bird Study Merit Badge question

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  • Bird Study Merit Badge question

    I am a new merit badge councilor and have been asked if building bird house design for wood ducks would count for this part of the requirement. I think it should but before I tell the scout to go ahead I wanted some other opinion. He clearly know what bird he is trying to attract. I just not sure if I have to follow this to the letter or can I give a little wiggle room.
    1. Do ONE of the following. For the option you choose, describe what birds you hope to attract, and why. a. Build a bird feeder and put it in an appropriate place in your yard or another location. b. Build a birdbath and put it in an appropriate place. c. Build a backyard sanctuary for birds by planting trees and shrubs for food and cover.

  • #2
    Doubtful!. mbcounselors really don't have that much wiggle room. Bird feeders, birdbaths, trees & shrubs enhance bird observation; bird houses not as much. Besides, building a nesting box for a wood duck is one of the possibilities specifically mentioned for the fish & wildlife mb. The nature mb also allows building a birdhouse.


    • #3
      There is no "wiggle room".

      Per BSA policy, all requirements must be completed EXACTLY as written. No additions, subtractions, or changes.

      For the Bird Study merit badge the Scout has to choose from three options -

      1) Build a bird feeder
      2) Build a birdbath
      3) Build a backyard sanctuary

      Notice none of the options state to build a bird house.


      • skeptic
        skeptic commented
        Editing a comment
        Just out of curiosity, what is a birdhouse if it is not a sanctuary for the bird? Is not your house your sanctuary also? So I would say it works; but then I tend to shades of gray in my interpretations anyway. Just do not discourage the scout; that is the most important thing.

      • ScoutNut
        ScoutNut commented
        Editing a comment
        The requirement specifically states - "Build a backyard sanctuary for birds by planting trees and shrubs for food and cover."

        If the Scout wanted to INCLUDE a birdhouse, or nesting box, as a PART of the sanctuary, that would be acceptable. However, a birdhouse on it's own? No.

    • #4
      Agreed. Birdhouse is not an option. Do encourage the scout to consider fish and wildlife MB if he still want's to build the nesting box.

      The main reason is so boys learn to follow instructions with some degree of precision.


      • #5
        The boy already has those two merit badges. He is really interested in animals and nature. I will let him know that he should build a bird feeder or bird bath. He may build the wood duck house anyway. Which is a good thing to do anyway. Birds are his main interest now so I think he will be fine with building something else.

        The only reason I thought it would be alright was the wood duck house are one the main ways to attract them. Thus he would be creating habitat for the animal per the requirement. Like I said knowing him he will build one anyway just to try an attract the wood duck. He already has area to place the house.


        • #6
          Thank you for the advice. I am fairly new to being a merit badge councilor.


          • #7
            I disagree with the majority. A nesting box certainly counts as a sanctuary.

            I think we're looking at a classic rural/urban conflict.
            In the city a birdbath, a feeder, or a shrub sanctuary make sense.
            In the country where puddles abound, the corn or millet field next door is a food source, and your front yard becomes a bird sanctuary if you don't mow it every week...

            Well; a nesting box to keep eggs away from the coons makes more sense.


            • qwazse
              qwazse commented
              Editing a comment
              JB, if the kid's backyard can be set up as a wetland to draw ducks, then you have a point. But that's more than just putting up a box, isn't it? Your family would have to commit to not mowing that section of property, you would have to clear it of refuse, maybe reclaim the tract for wetlands, and pen up the dogs.

              My brother-in-law and his wife did just that on his suburban property, and the ducks came, but it was an impressive piece of work. For it to be sustainable, they had to build a pen to keep the nests away from the coons and keep gators out of the pond.

          • #8
            If it's a passion for the boy, the wood duck house might be a nice seed for an Eagle project or a Hornaday project.


            • #9
              I believe a bird house would satisfy the "sanctuary" option.
              But here is what I did for the requirement:
              Simple, but effective.