Friday, March 1, 2024

Nesting Gourds for Purple Martins!

As part of an initiative called Stretch Our Parks,  we partnered with the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia to install a Purple Martin nesting colony in the big meadow at Four Mile Run Park. Purple Martins are North America's largest swallows -- beautiful, acrobatic birds that swoop and dive, eating flying insects near water. They are migratory, spending their nesting/breeding season here, and overwintering in South America's Amazon River basin.

Purple Martins are also secondary cavity nesters: unlike woodpeckers, they do not excavate their own nests, but instead claim already-existing cavities like old woodpecker holes or natural cavities in dead trees or rock ledges. Thousands of years ago, people began providing man-made housing for the Purple Martins in the form of dried, hollow gourds. Over time, the birds nested successfully in these inviting homes, and now, most eastern Purple Martins nest in them.

More details and photos of volunteers at work installing the Purple Martin colony can be found in the ASNV news post. We hope these beneficial birds will move in at Four Mile Run later this spring!