Celebrate purple martin success story in Ladysmith

Wear something purple on July 16 and join the BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program

Wear something purple on July 16 and join the BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program at its 12th annual open house at the Ladysmith Maritime Society marina from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate the return of Western Purple Martins, a Species At Risk in B.C.

The B.C. purple martin population has increased from a low of five breeding pairs in 1985 to approximately 1,150 nesting pairs in 2015, mainly as a result of nest boxes built, installed and maintained by dedicated volunteers.

There has been good return of both adult and one-year-old birds this year.

Last summer’s hot, dry weather and a plentiful supply of flying insects for food resulted in a high number of young.

“Although the final count for 2016 is not yet available, there has been a good return of two- and three-year-old birds this year. Many Central Island colonies are again fully, or almost fully, occupied. This is very exciting to see,” said program biologist Bruce Cousens. “The martin colony at the LMS marina is the largest on Vancouver Island and we’re expecting about 70-80 pairs again this year.”

In the Duncan area, purple martins can be seen and heard around the pilings at Cowichan Bay, the second largest colony on Vancouver Island with about 60 pairs of martins in 2015.

Visitors will be able to watch adults feeding nestlings, learn more about the conservation of purple martins from displays and hear stories about purple martin activities around the Strait of Georgia and other parts of Canada.

Martin nestlings will be banded at a session scheduled for about 3 p.m. during the open house.

Light refreshments and purple (blueberry) milkshakes will be served while quantities last. When you get to Ladysmith, follow the yellow signs to the marina and park in the upper parking lot.

The BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program is coordinated by Georgia Basin Ecological Assessment and Restoration Society of Nanaimo.

The Recovery Program is supported this year by BC Hydro, Conservancy Hornby Island, Island Timberlands, Ladysmith Maritime Society, Mid Island Coop, Pacific Conservation Assistance Fund, Pender Island Conservancy Association, Rocky Point Bird Observatory, TimberWest, Victoria Natural History Society, and Western Purple Martin Foundation as well as many individuals, volunteers and local businesses.