Since 1998, Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage (CWH) has restored more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, planted more than 850 acres of woodlands, and planted upwards of 6,000 acres of native grasses. CWH also helps private landowners manage habitat on their property and conducts research to benefit the Chesapeake Bay and its wildlife.
Nesting structures are a valuable component of this work. For more than 30 years, CWH has installed and maintained Purple Martin houses and managed Martin colonies on private land and on the more than 1,150 acres we own and manage as wildlife sanctuary in Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The Martin’s bright, trilling call is a sure sign that spring has arrived. These lovely swallows provide more than a pretty song and shows of aerial acrobatics, though. Purple Martins are voracious insectivores, preying on a variety of insects—including agricultural pests.
CWH currently installs houses and monitors Martin colonies for 13 different landowners in three Mid-Shore counties. In 2019, the 35 houses on these properties fledged a total of 765 chicks. For the 2020 nesting season, we monitored 45 houses on 16 properties. While weather and other conditions dictate a colony’s success from year to year, the colonies monitored by CWH typically perform well.
Our Purple Martin workshops for landowners have always been enthusiastically attended. In response to increased demand for Martin services and education, we are developing a public program for 2021. We also have published numerous articles on Purple Martins in both our newsletters and other publications.
CWH’s active role in managing our Martin nesting colonies helps the birds, fellow Martin lovers, and the ecosystem. In return, the Purple Martins—wonderful ambassadors for migratory birds—return each spring to sing their song and provide enjoyment and a valuable service for the environment.