Purple Martins

June to August.

Our Nesting Colony

Purple Martin

Purple MartinLadysmith Harbour is the largest nesting colony on Vancouver Island for the Western Purple Martin. LMS members are dedicated to seeing this Martin population recover from near extinction.

In terms of numbers, there are now over 1,300 breeding pairs of Purple Martins in BC, this up from the only 5 known pairs remaining in the province in 1985. We are especially excited to announce that LMS is home to the largest Purple Martin colony in BC!

Due to this significant increase, the Purple Martins have been moved from the BC Red List (Threatened) to the Blue List (Vulnerable), an improvement in their conservation status.

The Martin colony raised on our docks disperse to other colonies in the Strait of Georgia. Our colony, therefore, contributes significantly to the Martin population growth and BC recovery program. In December of 2014, LMS was awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for our role in the stewardship and recovery efforts of the Purple Martin.

The Ladysmith Maritime Society co-operates with the BC Purple Martin Stewardship & Recovery Program by attaching nest boxes to dock pilings, watching for spring arrival of Purple Martins, helping count adult birds and banding nestlings.

Purple Martin boxesAn information kiosk at the top of the ramp to our docks provides information about the need to protect these birds. You can find more information about Western Purple Martins in BC by visiting www.saveourmartins.org.

Nesting begins in earnest in May, with a female Martin laying 4-6 eggs. The young are usually out and about by late July and in mid-August, the migration South begins. While in their summer homes, the Purple Martins eat flying insects including beetles, moths and flying ants. Delectable dragonflies are fed generously to baby martins.

While in BC, North America’s largest swallows make use of the cozy nesting boxes provided at the LMS docks, one of about 120 active colonies in the province.

For more information, please visit the Georgia Basin Ecological Assessment and Restoration Society (GBEARS) website. A special thank you to Charlene Lee (GBEARS) for sharing her knowledge and insight about the Purple Martins, and to Kevin Li for the top photo.

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