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Children from the South Hills Church of Christ in Helena, Mont., show off their bluebird houses.
Culture
Photo provided by Mark Wilson

Creation care: Montana church works to save native bluebirds

Members of the South Hills Church of Christ believe conservation efforts are an important part of Christian stewardship.

A group of kids and supervising adults at the South Hills Church of Christ in Helena, Mont., participated in a “creation care” project that resulted in 18 new homes for western bluebirds.

A western bluebird perches on a rock on Ring Mountain in California.

A western bluebird perches on a rock on Ring Mountain in California.

The iridescent, azure color of these mountain bluebirds endears them to people across the western U.S. Their spectacular beauty has resulted in their designation as state birds in both Idaho and Nevada.

It is estimated that there are 4 million mountain bluebirds in the U.S. today, about 1 million fewer than 50 years ago.

As stewards of God’s creation, members of the South Hills church believe this is a cause for concern.

Envisioning a means of encouraging children to develop an early, healthy sense of creation care responsibility (Genesis 1:26-28), they wanted to have the new cedar birdhouses ready by the expected mid-March arrival of mountain bluebirds into the Helena valley. The wedge-shaped birdhouse design (available at nestboxbuilder.com) was selected because limited research shows that bluebirds seem to prefer that configuration to the more typical rectangular box.

Birds provide a barometer of the health of our environment. A 2022 U.S. State of the Birds Report produced by more than 30 science and conservation groups indicates that there are 3 billion fewer birds in the U.S. than in 1970.

However, not all species of birds in the U.S. are showing declines. Notably, waterfowl species as a group are doing quite well overall.

Brian Christenson helps children from the South Hills church assemble birdhouses.

Brian Christenson helps children from the South Hills church assemble birdhouses.

This is the group of birds that has received the most conservation attention through the protection of its wetland habitat and hunting regulation.

Such success can encourage Christians to demonstrate similarly thoughtful stewardship activity for all species of “the birds of the sky.” A sparrow cannot fall to the ground without the heavenly father’s awareness of it (Matthew 10:29).

Paul Anderson cuts birdhouse pieces.

But conservation efforts can be burdensome: It took three adults five hours to cut out enough cedar wood pieces — and predrill the screw holes — to construct 18 birdhouses.

It then took about two hours for eight kids — with seven adults helping — to fasten the precut wood pieces together into finished birdhouses. Of course, everyone also had to endure about 45 minutes of joyous pizza-eating time at the conclusion of the project.

South Hills Church of Christ, Deerfield Lane, Helena, MT, USA

MARK WILSON is a member of the South Hills Church of Christ in Helena, Mont., and retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after a 36-year career involving conservation work in eight states. He is a co-author of “Embracing Creation: God’s Forgotten Mission” and can be contacted at [email protected].

Filed under: Bluebirds Conservation Creation care Culture Earth Day environment Features National South Hills Church of Christ Stewardship Top Stories

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