Purple Martins are back and you can help them directly by adopting a nest gourd
In the Sanctuaries …
by Frank Mantlik
May 6, 2021 — Purple Martins left the Coastal Center in early September, probably wintering in the Amazon basin. This spring, Connecticut Audubon’s habitat steward, Stefan Martin, saw the first returning bird, a male, on April 15.
Coastal Center Board Chair George Amato noted at least four martins on April 19, and Steve Spector, who birds regularly at Milford Point, counted about 25 martins on April 29.
So the number of returning migrants is increasing.
Last year we had an estimated maximum of about 80 adult martins (37 active nests).
To prepare for the season, Stefan, Conservation Biologist Jim Arrigoni, and Coastal Center Board member Lori Romick joined me on April 2 to remove the nesting gourds from storage and install them on the three poles (which survived the winter storms).
We have ordered six new gourds with round holes to replace gourds that have modified openings.
On April 23, Stefan, George, Coastal Center Board member Gilles Carter and I conducted our first nest check. It’s way too early in the season for martins to start nesting, but we discouraged a European Starling nest. Thankfully the weather has been favorably seasonal, and unlike the past two springs we found no dead martins.
The Purple Martin colony is one of the Coastal Centers great attractions. It’s within easy view of the marsh observation platform. Martins thrive there only because of the gourds and the hours of staff and volunteer time dedicated to the martins.
For $60, you can Adopt a Gourd. Supporting this work is a great way to directly help bird conservati0n.
When you adopt a gourd, a numbered gourd will be assigned to you. A paper gourd with your name will be hung in the windows at the Coastal Center.
Purple Martin supporters receive weekly updates about the gourds, the status of the nests, and a copy of the end-of-season report.
It is a fun way for families and individuals to get involved with nature.
Our team of staff and volunteers will continue to monitor our Purple Martin colony on a weekly basis. We’re excited to host one of the largest Purple Martin colonies in Connecticut. — Frank Mantlik is a member of the Coastal Center Advisory Board