LITCHFIELD, Ill. – Crews with the Illinois Department of Transportation are working to install birdhouses across the state to attract bluebirds and other native species.

The work is part of the “Give BIRDS the ROW” initiative, which began with the installation of birdhouses for prothonotary warblers along the Lost Bridge Trail near the IDOT headquarters in Springfield. The goal of the initiative is to increase the population of diverse bird species along IDOT properties.

Recently, a group of IDOT employees helped install bluebird houses at the Coalfield Rest Areas on Interstate 55 near Litchfield. The houses are added to short-grass, open-yard habitats in an effort to help bluebirds and other native species thrive in Illinois.

“In total, four bluebird houses have been posted so far: two at the northbound Coalfield Rest Area and two at the southbound Coalfield Rest Area,” said IDOT Photogrammetrist Jarod Hitchings. “The in­stallation of more houses are planned for prothonotary warblers along the Spoon River and for bluebird houses at rest areas and other appropriate short-grass, park-like habitats maintained by IDOT.”

“We hope to grow this program and install a variety of houses at different locations as the habitat and range indicates,” said roadside maintenance manager Stephanie Dobbs said. “In the future, if interesting species find homes on our right of way, we would like to do a webcam or something similar to share it with employees and the public.”

The McHenry County Audubon Society provided the birdhouses in Litchfield. Steve Letsky, Design and Environment’s Bicycle and Pedestrian/ADA Policy Engineer, also donated handcrafted birdhouses to IDOT that he built on his own.

Anyone interested in supporting this work is invited to reach out to Hitchings at jarod.hitchings@illinois.gov.

“We are hoping to encourage the nature community, educators and bird enthusi­asts to partner with IDOT in monitoring these boxes to discourage non-native species while documenting success­es in diversifying the species along IDOT-managed habitats,” Hitchings said.