purple martin activity

Our study site is the proud home to a colony of purple martins. These are migratory songbirds that arrive at the ranch during spring and leave to migrate south in late summer or early fall. Purple martins are cavity nesting birds and can be attracted by providing them with appropriate habitat. These insect-eating birds are a popular species and are well known for their high tolerance of humans. There are multiple housing options for purple martins. Our project site provides both nesting gourds and a compartment condo for the birds. We have also installed predator guards to keep racoons and snakes from predating purple martin eggs and hatchlings. Our martin housing is located in an open field approximately 150 feet away from building structures. House sparrows are problematic to purple martin colonies. House sparrows are an invasive sparrow species that are aggressive and sometimes deadly to native bird species. These birds are notorious for claiming purple martin housing. To prevent these problems, we store our gourds and cover the house entrance after the colony has migrated. We make the housing available when we spot the first purple martin the following spring. We are happy to report that we observed a successful breeding year for our purple martins! Our colony size was approximately 20 individuals at the end of the season. We are looking forward to their return! For more information on purple martins and how to establish a colony of your own, look into these links:
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