Toyota Bodine Aluminum in Troy, is a 500,000-square foot facility that supplies four-cylinder, six-cylinder and eight-cylinder aluminum castings to support all Toyota assembly operations in North America. The facility sits on 80 acres and employs 800 team members.
In addition to the humans, the Bodine plant is home to many other creatures, including the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). Male Eastern Bluebirds are a brilliant royal blue on the back and head, and warm red-brown on the breast. Blue tinges in the wings and tail identify the grayer females.
Eastern Bluebird populations fell in the early 20th century as aggressive introduced species such as the European Starling took over the bluebirds’ nesting holes. But the species recovered after successful nest box campaigns alleviated much of this competition, especially after the use of nest boxes designed to keep out the larger European Starling increased. Eastern Bluebirds can now be seen across much of eastern North America and south as far as Nicaragua. They’re most common along pastures, agricultural fields, suburban parks, backyards and golf courses.
Toyota Bodine Aluminum is happy to share our land with these little songbirds. Team members built and installed six cedar nesting boxes for Eastern Bluebirds, spread around 30 acres of the site. The nest boxes were designed by the Missouri Department of Conservation with small openings to allow the Eastern Bluebirds in and keep predators out. The boxes are mounted on stainless steel poles to keep snakes out.
The birds are attracted to wide open spaces, and with input from a Wildlife Habitat Council biologist, the boxes were situated around a storm water pond in an open field behind the plant.
“The placement of the nesting boxes turned out to be ideal,” explained Vicki Hamilton, environmental assistant at Toyota Bodine Aluminum. “We were thrilled to see all six boxes occupied this spring. This project really shows our team members and the community how we can make a positive impact on biodiversity here.”
The nest boxes provide an opportunity to educate team members about the Eastern Bluebirds, which also happens to be Missouri’s state bird. Information about the species is posted on boards throughout the plant and on the internal TV network.
Thanks in part to these efforts, the Troy plant received Gold Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council in 2016.