Supporting tiny birds with the help of tiny humans
For the third year in a row, the Port of Vancouver USA incorporated improving purple martin habitat in its annual Take Your Child to Work Day activities.
Port staff looks forward to this event each year and finds that it’s a great opportunity to get the kids outdoors and involved in activities that positively impact the environment. For some kids, this was their third year visiting the mitigation bank.
“We are very proud of the work we do here at the port to help environment and industry co-exist,” said Environmental Manager Matt Graves. “It’s an even better experience when we get to make it part of Take Your Child to Work Day.”
In 2016, gourds were installed in the port’s wetland mitigation bank to attract purple martins. These migratory birds, which are a member of the swallow family, winter in South America and then fly north into the U.S. and Canada in the summer to nest and breed.
Each year on Take Your Child to Work Day in April, port staff and visiting kids raise the gourds to encourage purple martins to return to the Columbia River lowlands to nest.
Peak nesting season for purple martins is late May to early July. Graves and the port’s Environmental Services team will check the gourds for new nests periodically until September.
This habitat improvement project was done in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge’s volunteer bird experts.