RALEIGH, N.C. – State Employees Credit Union's latest "community" program has gone to the birds – bluebirds that is. "As a financial institution we strive to improve the lives of members by providing low-cost convenient financial services," said SECU Senior Vice President of Education Services Leigh Brady. "By participating in the Bluebird Project, we're working on improving the natural environment in which our members live." The $9.7 billion credit union purchased bluebird homes and stands for each branch to promote the Bluebird Project. In addition posters were designed in-house inviting members to buy their own birdhouses at cost for $8.00. According to Brady the member response was overwhelming and in less than six months over 9,850 birdhouses were ordered. So, why bluebirds? For one they help the environment. The bluebird diet consists of 93% insects (including cutworms and grasshoppers which damage crops and gardens) and 7% fruits and berries but the birds don't eat the seeds. Brady says three bluebirds call North Carolina home the eastern, western and mountain bluebird. Unfortunately loss of natural habitat and overuse of pesticides has greatly reduced the bluebird numbers in the state. One local, Frank Newell, noticed the decreased numbers, built a birdhouse and in just hours a few bluebirds took up residence. It marked the beginnings of the Newell Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Newell Farms birdhouses. Over the past few years Newell with the help of some volunteers, have built over 40,000 birdhouses to help rebuild the local bluebird population. "We first learned about the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and the Newell Farms birdhouses through an article in the local paper," said Brady. "After reading the article we knew it was something we wanted to be involved with." The birdhouses feature a predator door guard, hinged door and grooves to help chicks emerge when they are ready. Some staffers like Butner Branch Senior Vice President Toretta Snipes took special interest in the project, and worked long hours directly with Newell Farms to coordinate the deliveries once the houses were built. With such staff and member support, SECU is hoping that by next spring, North Carolina may once again be filled with the song of the bluebird.

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