Category Archives: Ontario Purple Martin Association

Saving Ontario’s Barn Swallows

If you have had the opportunity to travel down the Highway 401 corridor between Windsor and London you will have noticed several odd looking roofed structures on either side . Although they are very unusual buildings, they are provided for one of our declining swallow species, the Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) often seen in countrysides and around farm buildings. Efforts are being made to return them to their original numbers as their former habitats are being removed, closed or destroyed. The next time you travel this route or other routes in Ontario, you’ll understand why these odd looking structures are standing.

The Ministry of Natural Resources has set up some specific guidelines on Altering Barn Swallow Habitat at their website .


PUMA Abundance throughout the year

This ebird site produced by Cornell University sheds a lot of information about the relative abundance of Purple Martins throughout North and Central America during the year. It is certainly an interesting read about  their movements and relative abundance during the calendar year.


Nesting Pairs and Fledgling Results

As of December 4, 2018 , thirty  martin landlords have reported their results for 2018 as of December 4, 2018 .  You can see how they did ….Check below

Nesting pairs and fledgling results 2018 Dec 4

Holiday Beach Migration Observatory Purple Martin Update

The following blog article appeared on The Nature Canada website and provides important information about the work being done to assist the Purple Martin. Brodie Badcock-Parks  is a Nature Conservation Intern at Nature Canada. Feel free to explore the article and further information about the Purple Martin by clicking on the photo hyper link. The photo is the current Purple Martin site at Holiday Beach Migration Observatory.

Tag, you’re it! – An update on Nature Canada’s new Save our Swallows initiative

Developing a Nest Box Protocol

Developing a Nest Box Protocol -Fall Newsletter 2018

by Bill Read (President, Ontario Eastern Bluebird Association)

When asked to give advice on any proposed nest box project, I tell participants that building the nest boxes amounts to only 5% of the total project – the placement, predator protection, monitoring and record keeping make up the other 95 %. The OEBS has developed a protocol that can be followed when designing a nest box program for all cavity nesting species. It is hoped by following this protocol, groups running these workshops will have a greater chance of success attracting and being successful with the target species.

  1. Plan all phases of the project before starting.
  2. Decide on a target species and learn all about that species before starting.
  3. Determine nest box locations. If on private property make sure you have the landowners’ permission before setting up the nest boxes.
  4. Determine what kind of predator protection will be used.
  5. Decide who will monitor the boxes. 6. Decide who will keep the records.
  6. If boxes are to be located in areas with high House Sparrow populations decide how this risk will be mitigated.
  7. Decide how many nest boxes to build
  8. It is best to start small with a few nest boxes and do it properly. More can be added the following year.

Walpole Island Purple Martin Roost


(Used with permission from Susan and Richard Carr, Purple Martin Project)

Well, been a long time since I (Henry) posted anything, and this post is for those who don’t hit the PMCA Facebook page, but I believe my wife and I have had the best month of August a PM freak could ever have. I will try to keep this short and let the link below do all the talking. To preface the video, Richard and Susan Carr (Walpole Island Purple Martin Project), my wife Elaine, my two sons Jordan (drone pilot) and Jeremy (photographer and videographer) and myself spent the month of August roost hunting in a vast delta marsh area where the St. Clair river dumps into lake St. Clair. It is a giant marsh with huge phragmite islands that was showing an enormous roost ring on radar every morning. The trouble is, you have one hour to find the birds in a 5-10,000 acre area before they go down into the phragmite for the night, and then you boat out of the marsh in some serious darkness. Regardless, after a few scouting days, some evenings flying the drone where no sane person would fly a drone, and driving our boat a few hundred miles, we discovered the roost area(s). From about August 2nd to September 2nd, the amount of PMs we saw was simply incredible. This delta area must draw birds from all over the Great Lakes basin, because there is no way Ontario has this many PMs. When you hit the link, there is what looks like a gear wheel on the lower right side to change the settings, click the gear and try to watch in 780 or better yet 1080P or higher for the best quality. This is just the short version of the project, the full length video is a whopping 1 hr and 15 min epic saga Jeremy created with all the video footage we accumulated, it is just way too big to upload from our place.
Anyways, enjoy…if there is a roost near you, go see it. Words cannot describe an encounter with 200,000 martins in a 45 minute spectacular show. Where else could you see a million PMs doing what they do best? …

Festival of Hawks 2018

Festival of Hawks

Saturday September 15 – Sunday September 16, 2018

Saturday September 22-Sunday September 23, 2018

Join the experts from the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory for this annual celebration of the great migration. See thousands of raptors and other birds as they make their journey south. This festival features kid-friendly activities, nature-themed vendors, and a wide range of free programming. Adopt a hawk and banding activities will take place.This is your chance to take in this unique natural spectacle at one of the top bird watching sites in North America. Holiday Beach is ranked as the top hawk watching site in Canada by Audubon Magazine, and the third best in all of North America.

 9 am – 3 pm daily; $15 a day/car

Holiday Beach Conservation Area – 6952 County Rd. 50 W., Amherstburg

Join the OPMA experts at their tent by the Hawk Tower as they continue to describe their work with  declining purple martins . Members will be on hand to answer your questions about the species, migration, roosts, housing set ups and more-all in full view of the purple martin colony.

Pelee Roost Numbers Tumble

After visiting the Pelee Roost on Friday, September 7, it has become apparent that the roost has really dwindled and the North-Northwest winds have triggered the migration south. Numbers of martins were down from the 5000 or so  and the swallow numbers were few as well. Most of the martins struggled high in the sky against the prevailing wind before heading in to the roost. After making two circles , around the marsh area where they roost, the 500 or so martins settled in at 8:20 p.m. The view as always was  spectacular especially when  they executed their  vortex decent.

One more visit next week will probably be the last time  the roost is visited for this year.