We Ended Up Hosting Purple Martins |
Jay is an urban campus set in an older residential area. When the school
in 1969 the area lay on the very western edge of the City of San Antonio. Over
the years developement has surrounded and extended well past the school
recent years the few vacant lots left around the campus have been developed for
new retail outlets and housing units, fiurther reducing the habitat available
to native birds and animals
recent aerial shot of the school (identifiable by the track oval) the gray
to the left of the baseball diamond is a new housing area under construction
what had been the last open area adjacent to campus.
four lane roadway in front of the school on a typical busy morning. |
order to create a little bit of wildscape on our campus, in 1996 we created a
fenced-in garden in back of the school and planted wildflowers and antique roses.
garden provides numerous opportunities for student photography.
one corner of the garden we installed a pond which has attracted breeding frogs
and toads, and even a garden snake or two.
hummingbirds, house finches, loggerhead shrikes, northern mockingbirds and mourning
doves have nested in the antique rose bushes and climbing vines.
the spring of 1997 we decided to try and attract Purple Martins to our campus.
first year we were fortunate and hosted four breeding pairs. Some of these came
from an old neighborhood colony falling into disrepair.
martins nest in various sorts of human-supplied housing. We use plastic copies
of the gourds originally put up for this species by American Indians. At left
is our very first set of Carrol gourds, an old, round-hole design with no provision
for checking the nests.
right is the same pole last year, holding eight Supergourds with Starling
Resistant Entry Holes (SREH). In addition to the advanced entry design, these
gourds have a separate port for conducting nest checks.
the dark pipe around the pole. This is a 10 ft length of PVC conduit pipe, split
lengthwise and attached around the pole with hose clamps. When smeared with vaseline
this has proven to be an effective deterrent to vandalism.
our third year it became necessary to add another pole. We were able to enclose
an adjacent area in which to place it. In subsequent years a third and a fourth
pole were added as our martin colony grew.
year S&K Manufacturing donated to us a
color nest camera
with sound. Thanks to the expertise of our computer guy, we were able to transmit
live images to every classroom TV set in the school. This nest cam was contained
in a topmost gourd on the pole to the left in this picture.
final additions to our colony were first one and then a second pole
front of the school. The martins quickly became accustomed to the vehicle and
human traffic passing immediately adjacent to their nests.
Last year we hosted 36 breeding pairs which fledged 126 young. Since
its inception, the presence of this martin colony on campus has
served as a
to martin home