Many of the professors on campus do a lot more than just teach their assigned classes. Whether it’s tracking raccoons, cleaning the streams, or advising students and clubs, there’s always somebody to help. Dr. Julie Jedlicka is one of those professors. She has been at Missouri Western since 2015, but is originally from the suburbs of Chicago.
Recently, Jedlicka has been working a lot with nest boxes and bluebirds. She has done research with the Spring Mountain Vineyard in St. Helena, California and assisted with the nest boxes here on campus as well.
“Dr. Julie Jedlicka's research at Spring Mountain Vineyard and surrounding areas looked at how nest boxes increased western bluebird populations and if those birds were providing a significant pest control service,” The Wild Farm Alliance stated. “Her findings confirmed that western bluebirds were eating a significant amount of pests, and a leafhopper closely related to the blue-green sharpshooter, indicating that the birds would very likely be important predators for this pest insect.”
Nest boxes are commonly used throughout the biology field. However, they are not a one size fits all kind of device. They can be used for all birds but certain species are more attracted to them than others.
“They fill a hole of birds that normally, they're called cavity nesters, they want to nest in a cavity or a cave,” Jedlicka explained. “Normally they use natural tree trucks or dead trees. But a lot of times people cut down the dead trees in their land now and a lot of these birds don’t have places they can build a nest, especially like bluebirds that can’t excavate their own hole, like woodpeckers can peck a hole, but bluebirds rely on other birds to have done that for them.
Bluebirds can be found across the country and have gained the attention of many bird watchers and professionals.
“I really love working with bluebirds because they occupy nest boxes really quickly,” Jedlicka explained. “When I was an undergrad, I helped out another Ph.D student try to find nests of birds over the breeding season, and it’s really hard and I was really bad at it. I thought it would be so much easier if you could just build a box and they would come and of course you can for certain bird species so I love that you get to do that with bluebirds.”
Jedlickas research is not always about bluebirds. She works with different students and takes them on research trips, pre-pandemic of course. One of those students is Bailee Romaker who is a senior wildlife conservation major at Missouri Western.
“I’ve been doing research with Dr. Jedlicka since the spring of 2019,” Romaker stated. “She introduced me to the bird banding community on campus, they were a lot of fun and they helped me out a lot. She later accepted my application to part of her research team in Kenya. Since then, I’ve traveled to Kenya with her and I conducted research on the bird types on poppy farms in East Africa. I’ve done a lot of lab work that is correlated to our Kenya research. I’ve done nest box surveys with her and now I’m her TA for ornithology.”
Dr Julie Jedlicka has been working with the university for around six years and has gained the trust and confidence of many students. Along with the students having appreciation for her, other professionals, such as the Wild Farm Alliance, have the same admiration for her as well. From bird box research to traveling to Kenya with students, Dr. Jedlicka has made quite the name for herself.