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Showing Purple martins in the Squamish Estuary

Purple martins are the largest swallow in North America and were virtually eliminated from B.C. with only five known pairs nesting on southern Vancouver Island in 1985, local birder Chris Dale told The Chief. In 1980, a nest box program was started in southwestern B.C. and by 1998 there were 140 occupied nest boxes with 14 of those boxes being at Maplewood Flats in North Vancouver. Since then, the bird's breeding range has greatly expanded and in 2006 Dale noticed one pair nesting under a metal cap on some pilings in the central channel of the Squamish Estuary. A couple of years later, the Squamish Environmental Society held a workshop where children assembled purple martin nest boxes that local volunteer Carl Halvorson had pre-cut. Then Squamish's Vanessa Isnardy and John Buchanan installed them on some of the old pilings in the central channel. Within the first year, a single pair was using one of the boxes and now there are a couple of pairs that are each producing at least two young each year. - Chris Dale

May 19, 2019

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