Purple Martin News 

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Purple Martin News 

You may be wondering what happened to the purple martin nest boxes at the Denman community dock.  They were recently taken down for replacement while the Purple martins winter in the warmer climes of Brazil. We anticipate their return in late April-to-May. 

Of the 17 boxes removed and inspected by a team of volunteers on February 3, we determined that a total of 14 nestboxes were occupied in 2023 and 3 were either used in previous years or not at all. We subsequently learned about two pairs with nests at other locations. Human constructed nest boxes have been instrumental in the increase of purple martins along the coast of Vancouver Island and Denman for decades, as natural habitats have been lost due to various forest management practices and/or competition from other birds. Replacement of the nest boxes will be done using heavier boards about 1 inch thick for better insulation and longevity, as well as to break the cycle of parasite overwintering. Over 120 board-feet of Western red cedar was milled for the nest boxes by a volunteer using dying trees on his property. The pieces for new nest boxes have been cut and will be assembled and mounted by early April. 

The other good news is that a Denman Island Western Purple Martin Project has just been fledged under the wings (pun intended) of the Parks Committee of DIRA.  The project mandate states: “To sustain a viable breeding colony of Western Purple Martins on Denman Island, BC into the future”.

The Project Team is comprised of volunteers focused on two components: Administration and Construction. Caryn Rea (CRea) will serve as the Administration Project Leader, assisted by Val Hammell, Ben Jones, Joan Scruton, and Peter Karsten. Dean Heyland will be our Construction Project Leader, responsible for managing construction and deployment of the refurbished nest boxes with a team of experienced volunteers. Embedding the Project within DIRA was necessary to ensure continuity and support for sustaining the purple martin project for years to come.  

We look forward to providing updates about our Project with the community, and hope to see you enjoying our aerial acrobats with us this spring!

…. C Rea & Peter Karsten