THE WEIRS TIMES & THE COCHECO TIMES, Thursday, April 5, 2012
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REAL WOOD FURNITURE CASTLES IN THE SKY
by Steve White Contributing Writer
Early America Indians learned the value of hav- ing purple martins in their village as a natural bug eliminator. Hollow gourds were hung near teepees in multiple locations to ward of the pesky insects. Euro- pean settlers copied these methods by constructing wooden houses with mul- tiple holes for maximum mosquito protection dur- ing the summer months. The clearing of farmland
and rapid urbanization in the United States eliminat- ed thousands of natural nesting sites which led to the decline in purple mar- tin populations. Fifty years ago, J.L. Wade launched a program to educate the public about the benefit of providing purple martin houses in towns and cit- ies to combat mosquitoes without the customary spraying that was stan- dard in many metropolitan areas. The Nature Society
PACSI D IMAGE BY PAUL MERRITT
was formed in Griggsville, Illinois which can now proclaim itself as the pur- ple martin capital of the world. Martin migration starts
from Brazil around late January, depending on which part of the Northern
Continent you live in. Mature male birds, known as scouts, usually are the first to reach their proven breeding grounds from the previ- ous year. Legend has it that these scouts determine the food supply and housing in an existing area and fly back to South America to guide the return of the flock. In reality, the first arrivals simply know the value of selecting the best nesting site for success- ful breeding pur- poses. Purple martins
build nests from a collection of small twigs, pine nee- dles, straw, leaves and mud. Adult females lay 5-6
eggs which usually hatch about 14 days later. Most of these babies fledge in approximately one month, quickly perfecting their famous flying and insect- catching skills. By late summer the pur- See BIRD on 20
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