Bruce Cousens – “Purple Martins”

Purple martins fighting over a dragonfly - A. Bryant
Bruce Cousens – “Purple Martins”
by Andrew Bryant, 27 January 2009

Bruce Cousens is an independent biologist who works for the Western Purple Martin Foundation (WPMF), a non-profit charity based in Nanaimo. Bruce has worked with Purple Martins (Progne subis arboricola) since the mid 1980s, when he began to help construct nest boxes for this species, which is listed as a “vulnerable” species in British Columbia .

Bruce spoke about the biology, behavior and history of Purple martins, and in particular how the nest box program has facilitated a remarkable population recovery.   Once restricted to only a handful of colonies and containing only a few breeding pairs,  the population has grown to several hundred.

Several of our members have been active in maintaining the local colony at Myrtle Rocks.  It was nice to gain a broader perspective about how that colony compares with others, and to learn more about such a successful grass-roots conservation program.