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Eagle Scout project brings giant birdhouse to Rose Park in Billings

Billings scout Isaac Augustine builds large barn swallow habitat
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Posted at 4:16 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 18:16:43-04

BILLINGS — The goal of a new structure at Rose Park in Billings is mosquito mitigation. The new, giant birdhouse sits just west of the playground and has a very specific mission: to battle bugs.

It’s a barn swallow’s dream house, moving from the bottom of a nearby footbridge to a new, luxury high-rise.

“It's getting really old and it is constantly getting trampled over, so it's really hard for them to live under there because it is a harsher habitat,” says Isaac Augustine, Boy Scouts of America life scout. “They eat bugs, mosquitos and gnats. The goal of this project is to lower the level of bugs in the community and create a safer habitat for barn swallows.”

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Issac Augustine, BSA Life Scout

“Barn swallows typically make a mud nest, and these perfectly mimic a mud nest. It is concrete, but it looks just like clay. They’ll go up and in there and make their nest and hopefully they will have little ones and it will be very exciting for all of us,” says Pam Pipal, treasurer of Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society.

While not everyone may see the value in a barn swallow, this scout does, and he has the entire Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society backing him.

“It means a lot to me because this is something my grandson has been working on for a good year or more. It's just so cool to see it. He's so proud of it and it feels so good,” says Bruce Waage, Isacc’s grandfather. “I'm involved in the Audubon and my career was a wildlife biologist, so I'm sure that influenced him some.”

“It is so inspiring, it's just so wonderful when they find projects like this and carry through,” says Pipal. “Our grant was $1,000 and it was $750 up front, and Isaac has to present after the completion of this. At the end, he’ll do a presentation for one of our programs and then we’ll give him the other $250.”

Isaac, like other young men and women seeking the elite Eagle Scout status, has worked hard to see his dream through, even establishing a critical partnership with Billings Parks and Recreation.

“With our Eagle Scouts projects, we have a much more involved process. We get them in front of our parks board. We have them present their idea,” says Jake Milliron, Billings Parks and Recreation community outreach and engagement coordinator.

Isaac’s scoutmaster says it’s been an inspiration watching Isaac build a barn swallow nesting site suited for the best of the birds and watchers alike.

"I believe less than 8% of Scouts end up getting an Eagle, and it's a lot of work. Most scouts will not come anywhere near it,” says Tobin Spurlin, Scoutmaster Troop 52.

If you would like to volunteer for Billings Parks and Recreation, or have a park improvement idea you would like to help with, visit this link.