By Irene Perry
Summer on the Shore observing PUMA's
Summer birding is on the way with song birds establishing territory and singing for mates, Ospreys remodeling their nests, swallows swooping and diving for insects, water birds in breeding plumage, and Turkey Vultures circling in kettles. These are just a few bird behaviors observed in Skagit County now. Plan to observe birds this summer and volunteer for the Purple Martin monitoring team.
Skagit Audubon's Purple Martin project volunteers have installed additional nesting boxes at Ship Harbor in Anacortes, on Padilla Bay just north of the Interpretive Center and at English Boom on Camano. Last year all three of these sites had multiple nesting pairs. Purple Martins have been observed at these sites already this season. Monitoring of the boxes will run from June through August. You do not need to be an expert to volunteer. You do not need to commit to a schedule or certain time of day. This is a fun citizen science opportunity for you to participate in at your convenience. It’s even more fun to do with a friend or your family. All you need is binoculars and all sites can be monitored easily from shore.
Stan Kostka (left) & Mark Perry (right) install PUMA boxes at Padilla Bay
Monitoring the boxes helps to determine the number of nesting pairs at each site. Counting the nesting pairs will provide information on population trends for Purple Martins on the West Coast. Basically, you will be asked to observe the number of birds going in and out of boxes. You will be provided with a monitoring sheet for the site you would like to visit: Ship Harbor, Padilla Bay or English Boom, suggestions on what to look for and a diagram of the labeled boxes. You can even decide how you would like to report your observations, after each visit by email or at the end of August by mail. Our goal is to observe each site at least once a week for 45 minutes. So even if you can observe just a few days, you will be contributing to the data.
Purple Martins are so fun to see and hear. They are very social and vocal. During low tide you can walk closer to the boxes. These birds are very curious and will tolerate people close by. Watching the adults feeding the nestlings as they poke their heads out of the boxes is better than a summer blockbuster! Okay, I do get excited about birds. I hope you're excited to participate. Please contact me at email@example.com on the site you’re interested in monitoring. Make a difference this summer.