Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Purple Martins Living In New Condos At Union Bay Natural Area

The new "condos"

Connie Sidles, a Master Birder and Seattle Audubon Society Board Member, sent us a recent post, she wrote in her blog she regularly updates about the bid and plant life at the Union Bay Natural Area, also known as the Montlake Fill.

The big  news recently is the installation of Purple Martin gourds, or "condos" as Connie calls them,

west of the greenhouses, near the Center For Urban Horticulture.

"Purple Martins, you see, are our largest swallows, and they have been in decline for a long time. They nest in holes, and they like to live together in a colony. Natural habitat that suits them has vanished from our area, and for a while, so did the martins," Connie writes in her blog.

Connie tells the interesting story of how ten years ago, Kevin Li,  a water quality expert and biologist, began to install houses for Purple Martins all over Puget Sound, including among the pilings near Ray’s Café in Shilshole Bay, as well as Fort Lawton and many other places. And as a result, "birders began to see Purple Martins again in the skies over Seattle."

Kevin also tried twice to install gourds at the Montlake Fill, but both times, the gourds were stolen by vandals.

Unfortunately Kevin died in a diving accident in 2006, and no one has tried sine that time to install them until recently when the Friends of Yesler Swamp came up with the idea to try again. And birders began to respond donating enough money to install eight gourds, especially designed for Purple Martins.

Connie told us that the gourds were a community-based partnership between Friends of Yesler Swamp, the UW Botanic Gardens, and the birding community

You can read the rest  of the story here as well as some interesting facts about Purple Martins.

Connie closes her post by saying:

As human beings, we each have within us the power to create much of our own environment, at least the cultural parts. What we choose to create is up to us — as individuals, but also as people working together. I hope when we each make our choices about how to act in both our natural and cultural worlds, that we choose to better our environment and bring out the best in each other.

Connie regularly updates the kiosk at the Union Bay Natural Area, a natural reserve and haven for birds and wildlife in Laurelhurst, managed by the University of Washington.

Go here to read previous posts from Connie's blog in which she publishes descriptive updates and beautiful pictures on the bird and plant life in the Union Bay Natural Area.

Purple Martin Mom feeding her babies


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