This project was begun by local martin enthusiast, Jay Mominee, who was unsuccessful in attracting the birds to his home, so he set up a small set of nesting gourds near the Nature Center at Maumee Bay. The gourds attracted several pair that very first year,
and have been returning ever since. Last spring two different scouts became involved by constructing nest boxes for their Eagle Scout projects. Ron Smith built and installed a Troyer – T14 design, and David Shipko built and erected a North Star martin house. Both boxes were successful in attracting nesting sub-adult martins in the very first year!
People treasure purple martins for their graceful flight, social antics, gurgling song, and insect-eating habits. Martins are the largest N. American swallow, and as such are aerial insectivores. All they eat are insects; caught in flight. Their diet is diverse, including dragonflies, damselflies, many types of flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, flying ants, cicadas, bees, wasps, midges, leafhoppers, stinkbugs, and spiders. Martins are important as they are the only North American songbird species which is entirely dependant upon human supplied nesting cavities for reproduction.
The colony is actively managed through weekly nest checks and by banding of the hatchlings each year before they fledge, to keep track of migrational movements and site fidelity.