Mickey Joyce, resident of Country Village, installed a purple martin house at Roland Park today.
Purple Martins suffered a severe population crash in the 20th Century widely linked to the release and spread of European Starlings in North America. Starlings and House Sparrows compete with martins for nest cavities. Where Purple Martins once gathered by the thousands, by the 1980s they had all but disappeared. The population of eastern Purple Martins is dependent on artificial martin houses of wood or aluminum and fake plastic gourds, supplied by individuals and organizations fond of the bird. This tradition was in place even before the population crash; Native Americans are said to have hollowed out gourds and erected them for this purpose. The situation requires ongoing maintenance, as European Starlings and House Sparrows compete with martins as cavity-nesters, and will fight with martins over nest sites. Starlings have even been known to kill Purple Martins, especially nestling young, and Purple Martins have been known to evict House Sparrows from their nests. Thus, unmonitored Purple Martin houses are often overtaken by more aggressive, non-native species. Purple Martin proponents are motivated by the concern that the Purple Martin would likely vanish from eastern North America were it not for this assistance.
Mr Joyce, shown here setting up the house, will be monitoring this bird house and watching for new Purple Martins to move in. He says the majority will migrate this way next month.
For further information on Purple Martins click this link to www.purplemartin.org