2018 Purple Martin Report

Purple Martin Report

By Ken Wiersema

Evidence supports that our work to establish a sustainable Purple Martin colony in proximity to the 3 Crabs restoration site is succeeding. This year we repaired and re-marked eighteen nest boxes to install on the 3 Crabs pilings, and another six boxes for the sites on Protection Island NWR. At the end of June, we erected four new boxes next to the tidal lagoons adjacent to the pilings. These boxes were over land rather than over water, as were our boxes on the pilings. We had successful nests in every box but one of the last ones installed.   

On our August 10 field trip to the pilings, we counted 46 adult birds in and around the boxes on the pilings and another seven birds on the overland boxes. This was before we noted this year’s chicks fledge from the boxes. On August 28, Bob Boekelheide counted 70 Martins around the 3 Crabs parking area and on the wires overhead. This count included both adult birds and this year’s fledglings. This is the highest count of Martins recorded in Clallam County.  

Wallace Teal, who lives at Diamond Point, reported that he had three successful nests in his yard this year, and Anita McMillan had a successful Martin nest in a box we installed on her property at the mouth of Morse Creek. Additionally, both Michael Barry and Gary Bullock reported Martin sightings over and around their yards. Purple Martins were seen for the first time on an August Wednesday morning bird walk at the Audubon Center. 

We know that these birds prefer to nest and feed in proximity to fresh water, but they also will forage for food 15 to 20 miles away from their nests. With the surge in population we had this year, we expect that birds returning next May will be searching for nest cavities. We need to be vigilant watchers for where we might usefully install new nest boxes, or increase the number of boxes we have at existing sites.  

Many thanks to the dedicated team of OPAS volunteers who have built boxes, performed nest checks, and recorded data. The current team includes: Dow Lambert, Gary Bullock, Bob Phreaner, Bob Boekelheide, Laura Davis, Alan Smith, and Carl Sever.  

Dow Lambert has a series of photos on his web site at http://mastdog.com/DowMar/Birding/, that document his last box check on 12 Aug.