Hoping that Purple Martins would nest at the Lake City Treatment Wetlands, Alachua Audubon and Four Rivers Audubon teamed up in 2018 and purchased and installed an eight-gourd nesting system. The Purple Martins promptly arrived, moved in, and raised young in all eight gourds. Our two Audubon chapters expanded the housing complex by installing a larger, 12-gourd system in 2019 and another one in 2021.
The Purple Martin Conservation Association recommends lowering the gourds during the nesting season to monitor the status of the nests and to detect any problems that might arise. On May 2, 2023, the nesting gourds were checked and they contained 40 adults, 139 eggs and 32 hatchlings, surpassing the 2022 season when 31 gourds contained a total of 114 eggs and 25 hatchlings.
How exciting to know that even with an expected level of predation and mortality, this colony of stunning, vivacious, and aerobatic swallows will likely fledge over 100 Purple Martins from this Audubon-generated bird conservation project. (Photos by Tedd Greenwald)
In 2023, an 8-gourd nesting system that had been installed a couple of years ago at Sweetwater Wetlands Park was finally occupied by Purple Martins. On May 5, three nests containing four eggs and 10 hatchlings were discovered. We are optimistic that this is the start of a growing colony of Purple Martins at SWP.
Gourd installation photos from Lake City Wetlands in 2018 below.