Bruce Cousens/Charlene LeeWestern Purple Martin Foundation
The spring migration of Western Purple Martins is on the wing.
The first Martin was seen in Sacramento, CA on March 17. Purple Martins can start arriving in B.C. any time from early to mid-April, depending on the weather.
You can follow the Purple Martin migration for both Eastern and Western Purple Martins at the Purple Martin Conservation Association website, www.purplemartin.org.
Last year was a very good one for Purple Martins in B.C. A total of 1,150 pairs nested throughout the Strait of Georgia and as far north as Port MacNeill on Vancouver Island, at Bamfield on the west coast of Vancouver Island, on the Lower Mainland, and at Sechelt and Powell River on the Sunshine Coast.
The hot dry weather and lots of large flying insects allowed the adult birds to successfully raise about 4,400 young. A total of 85 pairs raised 310 nestlings at the Ladysmith Maritime Society community marina.
With this high number of young produced in 2015 we are expecting a significant increase in the number of returning Purple Martins this spring.
The best time to see martins at Ladysmith Community Marina is early morning (7 – 9 a.m.). They often (but not always) return briefly in early evening (6 – 7:30 p.m.).
They will begin night roosting in the nest boxes and staying around the colony later in the morning towards the end of April.
Once the spring weather improves and more Purple Martins arrive, they will be claiming, defending and squabbling over nest boxes and may begin nest building in early to mid-May.
They won’t begin laying eggs until at least late May or as late as mid-June, depending on the weather and abundance of large flying insects for food.