Updated PUMA report added ** New Richmond Purple Martin colony had good nesting success in 2023!

Male Purple Martin carrying food for its young at Garry Point  Park - Photo: Geoff McDonell

Female Purple Martin carrying grass to line her new nest at Garry Point Park - Photo: Geoff McDonell

Location of the Purple Martin Boxes at Garry Point Park in Richmond, BC

**Update click HERE to read our 2023 report on the city of Richmond’s PUMA nestbox project.**

Rob, John, Ilya and I set out on John's boat to clean out the Purple Martin (PUMA) nest boxes at Garry Point Park in Richmond. We had over 1900 Bradnt’s Cormorants on the ride in and few Parasitic Jaegers. When we got to the site and began cleaning out the boxes we were very happy with the new colony's success rates. There was not a single European Starling nest and most of the boxes had successfully fledged young with fully-lined nests. The Purple Martins are using Mallard feathers and long dried grass to make thick comfy nests for their young. I took a photo of one of the fully-lined nests we cleaned out from the nest box. These large swallows are much cleaner than the Tree Swallows who aren't as good at cleaning out the fecal sacs as Purple Martins.

Purple Martin nest with mallard feathers - Photo: Melissa Hafting

It isn't easy to hold a camera so high up! but here is what the nests look like inside the boxes.

I was very happy to see no dead birds, no unviable (unhatched) eggs and that all the nests used had fully fledged successfully! These birds have clutch sizes of between 3-6 birds, so if we are conservative we can estimate that at least 42 young fledged.

I will be working on the first report for the city of Richmond but the new colony in 2023 has been a success! I am still in shock these birds took to the colony so well and SO FAST! By early July we had at least 8 pairs nesting! We only put the boxes up in March 2023! My high count on adult birds was 30 birds this summer. We can only hope that more will take up residence in the upcoming years. The proximity to the colony at Reifel and the large  marsh area of the west dyke with what appears to be lots of insects near Finn Slough for them to forage in I believe helped to make a recipe to success.

Rob Lyske cleaning out a Purple Martin nest box at Garry Point Park - Photos: Melissa Hafting

These Purple Martins were very aggressive in defending their nests and this probably helped keep out the Starlings and House Sparrows. My friend Geoff McDonell actually caught a brave male chasing away a Peregrine Falcon this summer at Garry Point!

Purple Martin defending its nest from a Peregrine Falcon at Garry Point - Photo: Geoff McDonell

Thanks to Rob Lyske, John Reynolds and Ilya Povalyaev for their help in cleaning out the boxes and to John for the excellent transportation. Thanks to Rob Lyske for making and helping me install the boxes and thank you to the City of Richmond (who put up PUMA info signs with QR codes and funded this project) and also to the feds at DFO and ECCC for their support on my PUMA project and allowing me to erect the boxes on their lands.


  1. They must have been foraging quite widely: I was walking in Pacific Spirit Park (60-year old coniferous forest) and Merlin told me it could hear Purple Martin calls. There must be good insects over the forest too.

    1. yes I am always surprised when I see where PUMA turn up! In oregon they have documented them nesting quite far inland in natural cavity forests

  2. Congratulations on this wonderful achievement and the amazing work for conservation.

    1. thank you it is nice to have so much success with them within the first year!

  3. Great news! So happy that the first year has been such a success!

  4. This is truly fantastic news Mel! Kudos!

  5. What a great success story for Purple Martins, Melissa! Thanks to your vision, hard work, and your teams volunteer efforts! When ideas become actions, and translate into positive results, its a truly inspiring & amazing "job well done!"


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