Purple Martin Project
Futures, Inc., is a group of business people who support the Volusia County Schools in many different ways. One of their projects is to support the curriculum by giving grants to Volusia County School employees. Our principal, Miss Taylor, received a Futures grant for $600 to study Purple Martins. With this money, a pole with twelve gourds was assembled in the courtyard.
Every morning the "dawn song" was played to attract the martins and within a few weeks we had our first colony. During the spring of 2000, students learned to take care of them by removing the baby birds and replacing their nests. Students also kept records of 34 baby birds that hatched and fledged. In the 2001 school year we added another set of gourds.
Our birds arrive from Brazil at the end of January every year. Our colony has grown as well as our enthusiasm for this interesting bird. April is a good time to observe the martins at our school. We now average 100 eggs per year, with 99% of the birds hatching and fledging.
To learn more about the Purple Martin's go online, there are many interesting websites with lots of information.
Purple Martins are the largest member of the swallow family in North America. They spend the non-breeding season in Brazil then migrate to North America to nest, east of the Rockies and in deserts. They largely nest in abandoned woodpecker nest cavities. In the Pacific northwest, Martins are beginning to use gourds and clusters of single unit housing. The male and female cooperate equally in building the nest out of mud, grass and twigs. The female lays two to seven pure white eggs at the rate of one per day. The female incubates the clutch, as it's called for approximately 15 days; then the young hatch. The parents both feed the young continuously for a period of 26-32 days until the young fledge. Martins, like all swallows, are aerial insectivores. They eat only flying insects, which they catch in flight. Martins are daytime feeders and feed high in the sky.