Spruance Wildlife Habitat
The Spruance plant is located just south of Richmond, VA adjacent to the James River. The site is approximately 550 acres with 300 acres of that devoted to industrial use in some capacity. The site has multiple large buildings containing different product lines and a business center with a lawn containing a portion of the bird boxes on site.
The remaining 250 acres of the site are divided into four habitat management areas. The Spruance Site is certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) for its Wildlife-at-Work Program. Re-certification is required every two to three years. Forested areas of the site make up about 90 of the 250 acres mostly along the property perimeter. These ten separate areas contain mostly aging pines with hardwoods in successive growth stages. A flood plain forest consists of silver maples, sweet gun, and sycamores. Holly, magnolias, and eastern red cedar are also present throughout the forested zones. Open areas make up 63 acres of the site and are generally flat with grasses early successional stages. The majority of the nest boxes are located in these areas, with a few in the previously mentioned forested acres. Four of the seven open areas are suitable size for transitional buffer zone areas between forested and open areas. Finally water and wetlands make up around 52 acres including a cooling water reservoir, river frontage, and three waste treatment ponds. Fish, turtles, ducks, and geese occupy the larger bodies. Grindall Creek also makes its way through the property with around 100,000 feet of creek bed and banks. These areas are the focus of our annual volunteer clean-up efforts.
The Spruance Wildlife Habitat Team has engaged in a nest box monitoring program that provides nesting habitat for multiple species of songbirds. The program currently has over 30 nest boxes and 24 are actively monitored by employees and community volunteers. The boxes are scattered in two different areas on the site, providing the birds with access to food, water and space. To help volunteers unfamiliar with the site, the team used a GPS tracker and Google Earth to create a map of nest box locations. They also created monitoring binders that include the nest box location maps, nest monitoring ethics information, bird species lists, a how-to monitor guide, and an example data sheet with instructions on how to fill it out. Each volunteer receives an informational binder.
Monitoring occurs once a week during nesting season and boxes are cleaned out once a year. Volunteers record nest status, number of eggs observed, live young, adult sightings, number of fledglings and maintenance activities during each inspection. In 2012, the team gathered 221 data entries and found that Tree Swallows, Carolina Wrens and Eastern Bluebirds were utilizing their nesting structures. Seventy-six eggs and 31 fledglings were recorded during that year, highlighting the success of the team’s program.