Have you ever wondered what happens inside a Purple Martin nest box?

It is now September and most Purple Martins have all flown south back to SE Brazil (yes they fly over 8000 kms!). However, if you want to watch an incredible video of Purple Martins laying eggs in a box and rearing them to fledging age; you should watch this one my friend sent me from Squamish, BC. I guarantee that you will love these birds even more after. These long distance migrants (and the largest swallow in NA) are incredible parents. John Buchanan mounted cameras in his Purple Martin boxes in May of this year and got this incredible footage. 

Facts taken from the BG Gov't website about this Blue-listed Species: "Eggs are laid in July (Stutchbury 1991). Mating system involves monogamous pairing with extrapair fertilizations by older males. Clutch size is 3-8 (usually 4-5). Incubation lasts 15-16 days, by female. Male guards nest when females goes off to feed. Young are tended by both adults, leave nest 24-28 days after hatching (Harrison 1978), return to nest to roost for a few days after fledging. Usually 1, sometimes 2 broods per season (also reported as only 1 nesting per year). Depending on the location, a few or many of the breeding males are one-year-olds. Most individuals breed for 2-3 seasons. Usually nests in colonies in east and midwest and in nestboxes in the west. In natural sites, breeds in single pairs or small groups in tree cavities. The population is still limited by lack of suitable nesting habitat, competition from introduced species, and inclement weather conditions."

I am really hoping the council at the City of Richmond will allow me to start my Purple Martin box project next year after my Tree Swallow nestbox project was a success. We are working on a report to submit to them for approval. We lost only a few broods this year and that was due to the unfortunate/unprecedented heat wave. In one nest box where we lost a brood the parents moved to another vacant nest box and successfully fledged another brood very late into the season! 

Thanks to Chris Dale and John Buchanan for sharing this great video with me and for all their hard work helping these threatened birds in the Squamish River Valley Estuary. If you would like to learn more about this project in Squamish or to report sightings or become involved, please contact them at volunteer@squamishenvironment.ca


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