Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Purple Martin gourd cleaning and monitoring

Last week Connecticut Audubon Society started to prepare for the Purple Martin nesting season. We help to manage several colonies in Connecticut for the state-threatened species and participate in banding young birds at multiple sites each year with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. We are hoping to expand our monitoring of select sites with the help of citizen scientists, and we encourage you to contact us if you are interested in joining the ranks. We will be posting more information about that soon.

CAS Senior Director of Science and Conservation Milan Bull, Director of Conservation Services Anthony Zemba and I got to spend a beautiful morning at Stratford Point cleaning out dozens of gourds that were used by Purple Martins last season. This consisted of clearing out all nesting material from each one and wiping them clean, washing them out with soap and water, scrubbing them clean of all debris, and rinsing each one until they were nearly spotless. Here are a few quick photos I took of the operation in action.

Miley scrubbing out emptied gourds

 Where we would empty the contents of each gourd

 Fresh and clean

Anthony readying more gourds for cleaning

After we were finished we put up the gourd tree at Stratford Point where we hope to have at least a few successful nesting Purple Martins this year after having a couple of pairs of young birds building dummy nests last season. Among the gourds cleaned were Gazebo Phil's, and don't forget that you can watch Purple Martins live all spring and summer long on his website here. Phil and I will be writing columns, updating information and answering questions regularly there for all of his viewers from around the world. It is a lot of fun and very addictive once nesting begins as you can watch a family come into the world on your computer screen. Please check it out when the cameras are online later in April as the birds return to Connecticut and remember to contact us if you want to get involved in Purple Martin monitoring! You can email me at skruitbosch@ctaudubon.org at any time.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Photos by Scott Kruitbosch © Connecticut Audubon Society and not to be reproduced without explicit CAS permission

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