News / Ottawa

Nature Canada to tag Purple Martin birds

Fifteen years ago, nature enthusiast Peter Huszcz came across a couple nesting pairs of Purple Martin birds living in cramped quarters of a birdhouse and he decided to build them better digs.

Now, he maintains two multiple storey houses located at the Nepean Sailing Club (NSC) for over 100 nesting pairs of the Purple Martin birds.

The birds, while a wild species, rely fully on the help of individuals like Huszcz to build them their nesting quarters.

"This bird nests in manmade nests only — it doesn't nest anymore in the wild," said Huszcz. "It depends on humans."

The reason for their type of lifestyle, according to Huszcz, is most-likely because their natural habitats were always prone to deforestation.

"They used to nest in huge trees with hundreds of woodpecker holes, and those trees are no longer in existence," said Huszcz.

The birds are the biggest species of the swallow family and stay in North America for the summer, migrating to Brazil during the wintertime.

But mystery still surrounds the birds. Their breeding habits, for one, are puzzling.

Little is also known about where the birds stop along their travels to Brazil and why their numbers are quickly declining.

To solve the mysteries surrounding the birds and assist in their conservation, Nature Canada has initiated a project to place geolocators on the birds on Tuesday starting at 6 a.m. and last for most of the day at the NSC.

Huszcz will also continue placing bands on the birds so that they can be identified by their number under the international digital system.

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