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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Purple Martin birdhouse hoisted high in McGregor

Members of the Essex Communities in Bloom Committee and the Ontario Purple Martin Society celebrate installing an elevated birdhouse in McGregor’s Co-An Park.

by Sylene Argent

Another elevated Purple Martin house has been installed within the municipality of Essex, which is hoped to help the song birds’ declining population to soar.

Last Wednesday morning, members of the Town of Essex’s Communities in Bloom Committee and the Ontario Purple Martin Society met at Co-An Park in McGregor to officially unveil the Town’s third Purple Martin Birdhouse. There is one located on the grounds of the Essex Centre Sports Complex and another at the Colchester Harbour.

Members of the Ontario Purple Martin Society, John Balga and Paul Hamel, explained the number of Purple Martins, the largest of nine swallow species in North America, continues to decline.

This type of song bird typically does not nest in trees, therefore it is important for the birdhouses to be installed for them. In addition, those houses need to be monitored, regularly, to ensure swallows do not take over Purple Martin nests and to ensure the birds are able to freely move around in the cavities and have not become trapped. Members of the Society monitor the houses in Colchester and McGregor, while Town staff monitor the one installed in Essex Centre.

The Purple Martin, Hamel said, is an important member of the swallow family. This species, however, is not the only type of swallow facing challenges with its numbers.

Hearing of the need for housing for the song birds, Hamel said the CIB committee approached the Ontario Purple Martin Society about purchasing the original birdhouse in Colchester. The partnership has continued since.

Balga said the Purple Martin House in Colchester has been successful. Despite returning to a rough spring for the migratory birds, all six cavities seem to be full with the birds maintaining five nests. The newly installed McGregor birdhouse has already been made home for one active pair and has received visits from another pair.

On Saturday, July 7, the Ontario Purple Martin Society will host its first Ontario Martinfest at Colchester Harbour from 10-3 p.m. A donation for a local food bank would be appreciated as admission. Visitors will be able to see an active Purple Martin colony, learn how to attract the birds to their own property, and perhaps see young birds get banded. The event will also include speakers and presentations, and youth-orientated learning activities.

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