Purple Martin birds had just begun to nest in a handmade habitat in the Fraser River in Langley. The photo was taken before an errant log boom destroyed the piling and left at least four nesting pairs homeless. (Anne Gosse/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Purple Martin birds had just begun to nest in a handmade habitat in the Fraser River in Langley. The photo was taken before an errant log boom destroyed the piling and left at least four nesting pairs homeless. (Anne Gosse/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Errant log boom blamed for destroying bird habitat in Langley

It took years for rare purple martins to move into the wooden nesting boxes, now they’re gone

An errant log boom has wiped out a habitat for rare purple martin birds built on top of a piling in the Fraser River near Langley.

A social media post on Monday, May 24 by one eyewitness reported a log boom had escaped from its mooring that morning and knocked over the pole, taking the attached wooden nesting boxes with it.

Two tugs were called in to keep the boom from hitting the docks, the witness said.

Installed in 2012 at the end of Brae Island at Tavistock point by Metro Vancouver staff and monitored by the Langley Field Naturalists (LFN), the wooden boxes had finally become home to a small colony of nesting pairs, which were observed in 2018, but may have set up home the year before.

READ ALSO: Swallows, swifts and more

LFN president Lisa Dreves said the boxes were part of a campaign to bring the Purple Martin back after the species lost almost all of their habitat to humans.

“Historically, this would have been part of their territory, but they disappeared for many years,” Dreves explained.

Dreves is crossing her fingers that the the four breeding pairs in the demolished boxes will relocate to other, empty purple martin boxes that were installed on the south side of Bedford channel.

“The hope is that they didn’t lay any eggs.”

Dreves described how a lot of hard work went into setting up and monitoring the nests on the piling.

“You had to walk through a lot of mud to get there,” Dreves related.

Dreves said it isn’t known if the pole will be replaced.

A third set of purple martin boxes at Meunch Bar that were only installed last year have had purple martins “checking them out already this year,” Dreves added.

READ ALSO: Langley Field Naturalists offer free zoom presentations

Said to be the largest swallow in North America, purple martins are known for their speed, agility, and their characteristic mix of rapid flapping and gliding flight pattern.

A provincial environment ministry report says the purple martin “maintains a precarious toehold as a breeding species” in the province.

They are at the northwestern limit of their range in B.C., vulnerable to cold snaps that can eliminate the flying insects they feed on.

In the past, purple martins nested in snags near fresh or salt water, and have adapted to changing circumstances by adopting specialised nesting niches in harbour pilings, as well as in crevices in buildings.

“Without human intervention, particularly the provision of artificial nestboxes, this species would probably have been lost to British Columbia some time ago,” the report notes.

By 1994, all known nesting pairs in the province were using artificial nest-boxes, mainly built on pilings.


Is there more to the story? Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ConservationEnvironmentFort LangleyLangley

Just Posted

Undated Google maps image of Aldergrove Community Secondary School (file)
Aldergrove gets first electric school buses in Langley

Two battery electric buses are being purchased this year

Aldergrove Canada Day parade took place in 2020 with COVID protocols in place. (Aldergrove Star files)
Canada Day parade in Aldergrove set to go ahead

Aldergrove Star mistakenly reported that Township’s virtual July 1 celebrations included parade

Mosquito control contractors have been applying the bacterial larvicide by ground since late April. (Black Press files)
Pest control experts keeping mosquitoes at bay along the Fraser River

Bacterial larvicide has been used along the shores in Maple Ridge, Langley, and Pitt Meadows

Bella Jun claimed the prize for select female dog at the Westminster Dog Show. (Special to The Star)
Aldergrove breeder earns two top honours at Westminster dog show

Woodside’s German Shepherds, Arabella and Bella Jun, earned best in breed and select female

Langley City's economy is poised to enter a new phase when the SkyTrain line arrives in the downtown core. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Zumba, spin classes set to return soon in Langley City

B.C.’s restart plan means more rec offerings

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

Most Read