Helping to save the Purple Martins

Purple Martin Hatchlings
Purple Martin hatchlings - Westcan dock in Cowichan Bay (July 24th, 2018).

Due to loss of habitat in the Pacific Northwest, the endangered Purple Martin was reduced to less than 10 breeding pairs in the early 1980’s.  As such, the BC Purple Martin Stewardship and Recovery Program initiated a nest box program on the Fraser River and along the east coast of Vancouver Island where breeding pairs now exceed 1700.

Western Stevedoring, together with Pacific Industrial & Marine (our parent company) joined the program in 2017 by building and installing six nest boxes and added four additional boxes in 2018 on the Westcan dock in Cowichan Bay.  Seven of the ten nest boxes provided are inhabited by a breeding pair with young ranging in age from 2 days to 24 days old.  These social and very vocal birds arrived in Cowichan Bay in early May and will winter in Bolivia, Brazil, and elsewhere in South America come fall.

Juvenile Purple Martin

Juvenile at 23 days old (not yet flying) from nesting box at Westcan dock in Cowichan Bay.

145 volunteers are actively involved in this recovery program.  An expert volunteer attended the site and inspected the boxes on July 24th.  One nesting box held five chicks with one runt significantly smaller than the other four.  That hatching was moved to a box with a family of two hatchlings of a similar size to allow it a better chance of survival.

Adult Purple Martin

Adult Purple Martin. Source: Rocky Point Bird Observatory in Victoria.