2008 Purple Martin Season Summary for Western Pennsylvania.
Ken Kostka
Purple Martin Preservation Alliance

Poor weather in May

The 2008 Purple Martin season started out miserably in southwestern PA. The month of May was cool and rainy. I personally went through dozens and dozens of scrambled egg to feed the combined 37 pairs at the Lock 4 and Saxon Golf Course colonies. My house smelled like egg every morning for what seemed like a month. Most landlords fed their martins - some who did not sustained considerable losses.  Fortunately, most landlords had transitioned their martins from eating the more expensive and less available crickets and mealworms to the cheap and readily available scrambled eggs, fortunate also because there was a major mealworm shortage in the U.S.  Apparently, the major breeders had accidentally fed their stock poisoned feed.

Transplant Failure Disappoints

The PMPA attempted to repeat the 2007 transplant success and to refine the transplant technique by moving two pairs of breeding Purple Martins and their nestlings from the USACE Lock 4 colony site to an unestablished site at county park 3 miles upriver.  While conditions, preparations, and execution were flawless, with many key improvements from last year, the transplant failed. Upon release, both transplanted pair flew back to the donor site and did not return. The young were later taken back to the donor site, where the parents resumed feeding them. Look for a summary of this attempt in a future article. We now believe that the best artificial colonization technique is to build up the existing colonies nearby, then cut back on the number of compartments in the spring - a technique we call "forced dispersal".  This technique was successful in starting the USACE Lock 4 colony, as well as growing the Allnock colony from 2 to 13 pairs.

Active Purple Martin Colonies and Number of Breeding Pairs by county

Allegheny County:

Saxon Golf Course, Sarver. 28 pair. 99 nestlings fledged (established in the 1960's; down to 6-8 pair in 2001)

USACE Lock 4, Natrona. 9 pair. 40 nestlings fledged. (established in 2005 by "Forced Dispersal" method)

Butlers Golf Course, McKeesport. 58 pair. 224 nestlings fledged

Youghiogheny Country Club, Buena Vista. 25 pair. 100 nestlings fledged

Westmoreland County

Zeglin Dairy Farm, Mammoth. 26 pair. 117 nestlings fledged. (only known colony in Westmoreland Co.)

Armstrong County:

Richard Wood, Shelocta. 31 pair. 124 fledged (owes its survival to a metal Trio Castle; only known colony in Armstrong Co.)

Indiana County

Emory Miller Lumber, Smicksburg. 5 pair. (only known colony in Indiana Co.)

Butler County: (Great job to all the landlords here who have endeavored to restore martins to Butler Co.)

Roy Bauder, Portersville.  28 pair. 109 fledged 

Gary Clause, Portersville. 30 pair. 120 fledged (actually just over the Lawrence county line)

Bob Allnock, Portersville. 13 pair. 47 fledged (established in 2007)

Marty and Kay Edes, Portersville. 19 pair. 71 fledged

Moraine State Park, Davis Hollow Marina, Portersville. 14 pair, 39 fledged

Moraine State Park, McDanels Launch, Portersville. 21 pair. 93 fledged

Formerly (sold property) George Duncan, Portersville: 20 pair (approximation)

Duke Snyder, Butler. 39 pair. 141 fledged

Carl Forrester, Portersville. 7 pair

Brad and Beth Cooper, Portersville. 29 pair

Wendle Watson, Slippery Rock. ____  pair  ____ fledged

Jim Urey, Meadow Lake Golf Course, Slippery Rock. 7 pair, 26 fledged (Butler-Mercer County line)

Mercer County (many additional Amish colonies not listed here)

Dean Kildoo, Grove City.  63 pair. 269 fledged

Jefferson County

Rick Wise Farms, Punxsutawney:  3 pair, 7 fledged