Presentation Title

Purple Martins Along the King County Marine Shoreline: Citizen Conservation Efforts

Session Title

Session S-04D: Marine Birds and Mammals of the Salish Sea: Identifying Patterns and Causes of Change - I

Conference Track

Species and Food Webs

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2014 : Seattle, Wash.)

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Presenter/Author Information

Jean PowerFollow

Start Date

1-5-2014 5:00 PM

End Date

1-5-2014 6:30 PM

Abstract

Purple martins (Progne subis) are the largest swallows in North America and typically start arriving in the Puget Sound area from their wintering grounds in South America (SE Brazil) in mid-to-late April. They typically leave Puget Sound breeding grounds in late August to early September. They typically nest in colonies and use old woodpecker holes or other natural cavities that are near or adjacent to the shoreline; particularly in marine and estuarine areas of their west coast breeding range. Once prevalent on the west coast, a decline in suitable nesting habitat and competition from non-native birds such as European starlings led to a sharp population decline. In WA, the purple martin is a State Candidate Species and considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need under the federally mandated State Wildlife Action Plan. In B.C., Canada it is considered a Threatened Species. The removal of dead and dying trees has reduced the number of natural snags and removal of creosote-treated pilings has reduced opportunities for placement of artificial housing over water. In Puget Sound, most purple martins are dependent on artificial nest cavities. Several active nesting colonies have been established along the marine shoreline in King County, including 7 colonies on Vashon-Maury Islands (46 nesting pairs in 2013), one in Seattle (Ballard) (16 nesting pairs in 2013), and another in Seattle near Kellogg island (~6-10 nesting pairs in 2013) along the Duwamish River. Monitoring and maintenance of purple martin colonies in WA are almost entirely dependent upon citizen volunteers. The WA State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) is currently in the process of updating a regional database to document active nest site locations which will assist volunteers in site selection for future colony expansion. A purple martin recovery and stewardship program was established in B.C. in 1985 which has increased the population from less than 6 breeding pairs to ~ 500-600 pairs, but no such program currently exists for WA. Largely through volunteer efforts, in coordination with WDFW and other stakeholders such as local Audubon chapters, there is a desire to bring similar management attention to this species via citizen stewardship programs. Currently, the efforts of King County volunteers offer a model to expand off of with area collaborators. The end result being support of this species, local populations, and learning more of the particular ecological needs and synergistic factors that may affect these birds throughout their Pacific Northwest range.The populations that exist currently largely remain due to local volunteer martin steward efforts.

Rights

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Language

English

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May 1st, 5:00 PM May 1st, 6:30 PM

Purple Martins Along the King County Marine Shoreline: Citizen Conservation Efforts

Room 6C

Purple martins (Progne subis) are the largest swallows in North America and typically start arriving in the Puget Sound area from their wintering grounds in South America (SE Brazil) in mid-to-late April. They typically leave Puget Sound breeding grounds in late August to early September. They typically nest in colonies and use old woodpecker holes or other natural cavities that are near or adjacent to the shoreline; particularly in marine and estuarine areas of their west coast breeding range. Once prevalent on the west coast, a decline in suitable nesting habitat and competition from non-native birds such as European starlings led to a sharp population decline. In WA, the purple martin is a State Candidate Species and considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need under the federally mandated State Wildlife Action Plan. In B.C., Canada it is considered a Threatened Species. The removal of dead and dying trees has reduced the number of natural snags and removal of creosote-treated pilings has reduced opportunities for placement of artificial housing over water. In Puget Sound, most purple martins are dependent on artificial nest cavities. Several active nesting colonies have been established along the marine shoreline in King County, including 7 colonies on Vashon-Maury Islands (46 nesting pairs in 2013), one in Seattle (Ballard) (16 nesting pairs in 2013), and another in Seattle near Kellogg island (~6-10 nesting pairs in 2013) along the Duwamish River. Monitoring and maintenance of purple martin colonies in WA are almost entirely dependent upon citizen volunteers. The WA State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) is currently in the process of updating a regional database to document active nest site locations which will assist volunteers in site selection for future colony expansion. A purple martin recovery and stewardship program was established in B.C. in 1985 which has increased the population from less than 6 breeding pairs to ~ 500-600 pairs, but no such program currently exists for WA. Largely through volunteer efforts, in coordination with WDFW and other stakeholders such as local Audubon chapters, there is a desire to bring similar management attention to this species via citizen stewardship programs. Currently, the efforts of King County volunteers offer a model to expand off of with area collaborators. The end result being support of this species, local populations, and learning more of the particular ecological needs and synergistic factors that may affect these birds throughout their Pacific Northwest range.The populations that exist currently largely remain due to local volunteer martin steward efforts.