Purple Martins at North Park Summer Update

Posted on Jul 11, 2019 in News

It’s been a great season for Purple Martins at North Park!

This was the fourth year that my family and I hosted a Purple Martin conservation site at North Park.  When I think back of how we started with only one six count gourd rack I’m in awe of how this site has done.   In such a short amount of time we went from only one nest in 2016 to 38 nests this year.  That’s a lot of birds especially since each nest hatches approximately five young.

I get asked all the time why I like Purple Martins so much.  Not only are they fun to watch and listen to, it’s a great activity that I get to do with my family.  And, with Purple Martins being dependent on us for their housing, we’re also doing our part to help a species that is in need.

This year we stepped up our conservation efforts and spent quite a bit of time educating others about these beautiful song birds.  We talked to people regularly while checking on our site located next to the walking trail, and I organized a Purple Martin event too. I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to learn about Purple Martins. I did take into consideration that not everyone enjoys birds as much as I do so I incorporated the event to be about nature in general with Purple Martins being the feature. Even though our original date was rained out in mid-May, our rescheduled event on June 1st was a success! I’m so thankful to the other organizations that joined me: Audubon Louisiana, Louisiana Master Naturalist of Greater Baton Rouge, Denham Springs Garden Club, Capital Area Beekeepers Association, Livingston Parish Library and the Louisiana Master Gardeners.  The local schools that have Purple Martin sites also participated and provided artwork to display and face painting.  I’d like to give a big thanks to Tractor Supply for donating water and keeping everyone hydrated!

During the June 1st event, Katie Percy, an avian biologist from Audubon Louisiana, banded a few of the Purple Martin nestlings.  These federally issued bands are placed on the right leg.  Banding these birds can help track their movements and life history, return rates, annual migration and survivorship. If someone recaptures these birds they will know that they were banded at North Park since the band numbers are entered into a national database.  Next year I’ll be looking closely to see if I spot any of these banded birds.

It’s always a bit sad when the Purple Martins leave to make their way down South to the Amazon Basin.  After all, my family and I spend the first half of the year taking care of the site and making sure their time here is successful.  There is a lot to be happy about though.  We had a record year of 38 nests which fledged approximately 160 young, and when you think about the number of parents that raised each brood, that’s a total of over 230 Purple Martins just at North Park. Wow!

Now that our site is quiet, we’ll take some time to catch up on things we’ve put aside.  The gourd racks will be left open until September or so for any Purple Martins that may need a spot to rest before flying over the Gulf of Mexico back to their wintering ground in South America.  We’ll then lower, clean and plug the gourds until January.

If you’re interested in becoming a Purple Martin landlord and are not sure what to do, please reach out to me.    Also, if you have Purple Martin housing that you’d like to donate to our conservation efforts, please email me.  We currently are working with four schools and two park sites with others interested for next year.

Valuable information and a live feed of an active Purple Martin nest in Pennsylvania can be found at the Purple Martin Conservation Association’s website at www.purplemartin.org.

A BIG thanks to North Park for their support!  It’s truly appreciated.

Krista Adams