Biologist Bruce Cousens finds purple martin nestlings at the Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina for a banding demonstration during last year’s open house.

Biologist Bruce Cousens finds purple martin nestlings at the Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina for a banding demonstration during last year’s open house.

Join the purple martin party

Visit the Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina July 20 for a purple martin open house.

The BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program is celebrating another year of success, and everyone is invited to join the party.

Wear something purple on Sunday, July 20 and join the BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program at its 10th annual open house at the Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina from 2-4 p.m. to celebrate the return of Western Purple Martins, a Species At Risk in B.C.

The B.C. Purple Martin population increased from five breeding pairs in 1985 to about 950 nesting pairs in 2013, mainly as a result of nest boxes built, installed and maintained by volunteers, according to a press release.

The warm dry summer last year and a plentiful supply of flying insects resulted in the Martins successfully raising more than 3,400 young, which is a significant increase over recent years.

“Although the final count for 2014 is not yet available, there has been an exceptional return of two- and three-year-old birds, as well as first-year birds (subadults), this year,” stated program biologist Bruce Cousens. “Many small- to medium-sized Central Island colonies are again fully occupied and about 10 previously unoccupied nest box sites around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are occupied for the first time this year. This is very exciting to see. The Martin colony at the LMS Marina is the largest on Vancouver Island, and we’re expecting about 70 pairs this year.”

During the open house, visitors will be able to watch adults feeding nestlings, learn more about the conservation of Purple Martins at various displays and hear stories about Purple Martins activities around the Strait of Georgia and other parts of Canada. Martin nestlings will be banded at sessions scheduled for 3 p.m.

Light refreshments and the famous purple (blueberry) milkshakes will be served while quantities last.

The BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program is co-ordinated by Georgia Basin Ecological Assessment and Restoration Society (GBEARS) of Nanaimo. The Recovery Program is supported this year by BC Hydro, Canadian Wildlife Service, Island Timberlands, Ladysmith Maritime Society, Mid Island Coop, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Pacific Conservation Assistance Fund, Pender Island Conservancy Association, TimberWest, Victoria Natural History Society and Western Purple Martin Foundation, as well as many individuals, local businesses and volunteers.