TPW TV: Purple Martins

This is Passport to Texas

Andy and Julia Balinsky are landlords in Austin… and their tenants are a colony of purple martins.

02—They are the largest North American swallow.

Most swallows build their own nests, but purple martins prefer existing structures in which to raise their young; this makes them increasingly reliant on people like the Balinskys. Yet, this bird/human dependence is not new.

08— Native Americans put up gourds [for the birds] long, long ago. And this bird associates safety with humans.

The colony of purple martins is in good hands with Andy and Julia, who perform regular maintenance on the nest boxes for the birds’ health and safety.

05— We have to clean them out. We have to purchase new structures from time-to-time and [do] some maintenance.

The couple’s job also involves evicting unwanted tenants like house sparrows, which often hijack martin nests.

08— They’re pretty nasty. They’ll go in and peck the purple martin eggs; they’ll be mean to the babies. It’s bad news, so, we discourage them from being here.

Get to know the Balinsky’s and the birds in a segment airing this week on the TPW PBS TV series. Check your local listings.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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