A Mail Ma'am's Mission to Protect Bluebirds

A Mail Ma'am's Mission to Protect Bluebirds

A Virginia letter carrier has turned her route into a haven for nesting eastern bluebirds.

By Michele Berger/Photography by Jeff Hutchens
Published: July-August 2012

Coe notes that Shultz's passion for birds is infectious, and that she's always willing to share her massive store of self-taught knowledge with folks along her mail route. Kate Duval keeps watch over her box, sometimes through binoculars from her living room; in 2011 she had four hatchlings for the first time. No such luck for Bozarth. "They had beencoming sporadically," she says. In previous years several bluebird families had produced eight or nine chicks in two houses she had installed herself. She seems worried about the prospects of their return yet assured that she and Shultz will somehow make the Bozarth boxes more hospitable. (As Audubon went to press, chicks had recently hatched in the newly installed box.) 

"Birds are such miraculous little beings," says Shultz. "That's what draws me to them. They have that whole survival-of-the-fittest thing going on with migration." And as if running a banding station, the Host-a-House program, and a mail route aren't enough, Shultz has a new mission: to build great crested flycatcher houses. She's already put up three.

This story originally ran in the July-August 2012 issue as "Priority Mail."

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Michele Berger

Michele Berger is Audubon magazine's Associate Editor and social media manager. Follow her on Twitter @MicheleWBerger. Follow the magazine on Facebook.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine



Fantastic!!! It inspires me to ask my neighbors if I can add a bluebird house to their yard! I was surprised to get a family of them last year and hope the offspring will stay in the area!!
Thanks for the inspiration!

two incredible women

Both Rita and Risa are 2 extraordinary people. Their passion for wildlife is contagious. Their eagerness to share their knowledge, in a way that engages all people, is a gift that has personally enriched my life. Thank you Rita and Risa for contributing so much to all our lives.

Rita the mailma'am

Rita's commitment level is fantastic. For years I donated a raptor program at our Richmond Audubon fundraiser auction; Rita was the winning bidder and, using her own money and resources, she put on a wild bird appreciation event including my live bird presentation. It was hosted by a family on her mail route. Rita demonstrated her banding equipment and explained how it all worked. She brought live examples of native wildlife garden plants, and did giveaways of those, birdhouses, bird-themed educational toys, and more. She made posters showing the local species found along the mail route. An enthusiastic audience of neighbors enjoyed it all. Rita has taken her job and used it to launch her passion and take it to the people in a way I find wonderfully inspiring. I'm proud to know her.

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