John Jay---Surviving Chaos: The School Construction of '03 - '04

In the February of '03 it was announced that a new library would be added on to John Jay, construction to start that spring, necessitating that relocation of one of our gourd poles. Only a single martin pair had arrived that early in the year, and that pair relocated when the old pole was replaced by a new one 50 yards away from the construction site.

Later-arriving martins quickly accepted the new pole location and all seemed well. Here is that hardy "Front Gourd Crew", recently returned from Brazil, waiting out an early March cold snap.





All was going well. Then in late April of '03, the heavy equipment arrived, man and machine tearing down the old school facade scant yards from the gourd pole.

During the day and at night, heavy equipment was parked all around the pole. The martins, who all had eggs or young in the nest by that time, did not desert but clung tenaciously to their gourds, clouds of dust from consturction coating the nests with a thick layer of grime.

The construction workers were very solicitous of the martins, gingerly easing their huge equipment past the pole, sometimes mere inches away.

All went well, young were fledged without problem, and as the construction continued into the summer. The fledged young and their parents moved on to the late-summer roosts. The following year, when the martins returned, the new library was in place, the new school facade installed, and the martins went about the business of nesting.

Then, once again in April, this time in '04, major school renovations began. Two dumpsters were place on either side of the martin pole and hauled away by semi truck almost daily. The larger scrap metal dumpster was placed only about a foot away. Every day, for most of the day, workers would come out with scrap metal and toss it up into the dumpster where it landed with a loud crash.

Still the martins did not desert their nests, eggs were hatched, and young were fed.


After a couple of weeks the dumpsters were hauled away and a relative peace descended.

Then the crane arrived......



...shown here from across the street for size reference. That low building behind those trees is our two-story school.

Towering above our school is a 150-foot crane, being used to place new air conditioning equipment on the roof.



Of course, the new air conditioning ducts (seen here in the foreground) were placed for pick-up right next to the pole.

The martins took it all in stride. A testament to exactly how much these remarkable birds tolerate the activities of humans.




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