Skagit Audubon

Watching birds, protecting habitat, connecting with nature

President's Message, January 2016

Irene By Irene Perry


                       Purple Martin 2 Erecting Purple Martin Nesting Boxes, Ship Harbor, Anacortes,WA

Shelters for PUMA's in Skagit County 

In the throes of winter, here is an opportunity to prepare for spring. With your help Skagit Audubon can prepare for the arrival of Purple Martins (PUMA) to their nesting boxes here in Skagit County. There is an established colony on Fidalgo Island where more nesting boxes are needed. We have two experts already recruited to assist, but we need support from our membership. The project will not move forward without volunteers. The goals of our project are to build, install, and monitor boxes for this existing site and additional locations.

The design of the boxes is very simple with specifications ideal for Purple Martins to nest with minimal disruption from predators and weather. A volunteer is needed to manage building the boxes. Responsibilities include acquiring the necessary supplies, recruiting volunteers and scheduling a date and location in February or March for assembly. You do not need to be a carpenter, just an organizer. Others can help by donating wood, your time to build or by making a financial donation to this project. Our experts will help too.

The time to install the boxes is late March or early April before the return of the PUMA “scouts.” These early birds are returning nesting pairs from previous years. First time nesting birds arrive later in April. The hope of this project is to attract first time nesters to the new boxes. A volunteer is needed to organize the date and installation of the boxes at the existing site and possibly additional locations. Several volunteers will be needed to install at the Fidalgo site during low tide. You will need high rubber boots to assist.

The ongoing phase will be monitoring the PUMA boxes over the nesting season. A volunteer is needed to organize Citizen Science volunteers who will observe and record their results on provided tally sheets. This is an opportunity to support PUMA conservation efforts on the West Coast by becoming involved in Skagit County. The west coast populations of PUMAs are dependent on old woodpecker holes or man-made boxes for nesting. With habitat loss and competition from invasive species like European Starlings and House Sparrows, PUMAs struggle to find successful nesting sites.

You can make a difference by volunteering to build, install and/or monitor PUMA nesting boxes. The success of this project depends on your time and financial contribution. Please contact me at on how you will help provide shelters for PUMAs!

Purple Martin 2


Skagit Audubon

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Skagit Audubon Society holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month except for the months of July and August. We meet at 7:00 pm at Padilla Bay Interpretive Center(Google map), 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd. Mount Vernon. Meetings are open to all.

The board of directors meets at the same location at 7:00 pm on the first Tuesday of each month, except for the months of July and August.