Purple Martins

In New Brighton we are lucky enough to have the only colony of Purple Martins in Calgary and its surroundings (June 2021). Our neighbour Andrew B. is sharing his passion for birds with anybody who wants to ask more and who takes a walk next to the pond in the NE part of New Brighton.

Here, at the New Brighton Community Association we made sure this project has a future – we signed an agreement with the City of Calgary to keep this project in New Brighton, on public land, for everyone to enjoy. 

This is the location of the Purple Martins project – the big white birdhouse. The smaller wooden birdhouse is for Goldeneye Ducks.

For the parents walking in this area with their kids – please do not shake the poles of the birdhouses, the birds do not like this (Andrew saw few kids doing it and this puts the birds at risk, even the project/colony itself). Thank you all.

Andrew was kind enough to send us the update for the 2021 season.

“2021 was a very successful year for the Purple Martins, the colony grew from one pair to now 6 pairs and all produced eggs!

We had a total of 14 Martins present all season – 12 of which formed pairs. In late July throughout August the eggs started to hatch, the colony fledged 15 healthy young which is 10 more young vs the previous season in 2020.

2022 should be a very exciting season and with just about a full house expected – 12 pairs / 24 adults, could produce up to 60 young chicks…. WOW!!!

The Martins have now left for South America, the long migration for winter has started and will be back next year end of April or early May 2022

Here is a breakdown of this season events:

  • May 03rd “Marcy” returning female from 2020 arrives
  • May 17th “Rod” returning male from 2020 arrives
  • May 18th, new mature male joins the colony
  • May 30th, single young male joins colony
  • June 01st, young female and young male join colony
  • June 07th, another young male arrives at the colony
  • June 08th, another young female arrives and joins the colony
  • June 12th, pairs start to forms and select nesting units
  • June 15th, nesting pairs start to build nests
  • June 17th, another female joins the colony, now up to 11 martins in total
  • June 22nd, eggs starting to appear in selected units
  • June 26th, another female appears and stays at colony
  • July 01st, we are now up to 21 eggs in total thus far
  • July 08th, a few of the eggs started to hatch in unit #3
  • July 08th, another young male arrives and stays
  • July 11th, a second mature male joins the colony
  • July 14th, 16 eggs have now hatched out of the 22 total eggs
  • July 23rd, all eggs now hatched (22 total)
  • July 28th, parents feeding young chicks around the clock, every 2-5 mins
  • Aug 04th, a few of the chicks now poking out of the nesting units and exploring. Getting ready to fledge soon
  • Aug 08th, some of the young begins to fledge and fly
  • Aug 12th, additional Martins from other colonies arrive to help with fledging young and “teaching”
  • Aug 16th, all Martins now fledged and flying. They will remain at the colony for another 2 weeks sleeping and “roosting” until they migrate south.
  • Aug 24th, only a few young martins remain at the colony for sleeping. They are gone during the day.
  • Sept 03rd, all Martins have now left for winter migration…

I also had another successful year with the Goldeneye ducks nest box (pond edge). The male and female returned again to the nest box and raised 5 ducklings back in April – June.”

In the last years one of the top hobbies is bird watching. Imagine instead of driving long distances to watch birds having a lot of species right in your neighborhood, in your backyard. The internet has an abundance of information about these birds, once you see them and you want to know more “the sky is the limit” – https://www.purplemartin.org/ .

The Purple Martins are good looking swallows who are eating around 2000 insects a day. Was largely believed that they eat mosquitos but this is a misconception because they fly around and feed at a height of 160-500 feet and mosquitos don’t roam that high. The people living around the New Brighton Purple Martins Project told Andrew that they don’t have pesky bugs around since the Purple Martins are in the area. The City of Camrose has a growing project around these birds and even a festival – you can read about it and get more interesting facts here https://www.camrose.ca/.