Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nests, Eggs, and Hatch-lings!

While I write up my report on my recent visit to San Antonio and sites there, I'd like to dedicate a special page to the work going on at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (http://www.sabot.org/).  While visit the San Antonio region, I paid a visit to the gardens to learn more about local flora but also about the local environment and birds.  To start, it was a fantastic place to visit.  Good Signage (not always the case at botanical gardens) and the exhibits were clearly designed with care and thought.  I was a big fan of the section dedicated to conversing water.  Being in a most arid environment, water conservation is key and the botanical gardens illustrated with great information, creativity, and ecological value, how the use of native plants doesn't mean your landscape will be an ugly mess of oddly shape cacti and succulents, but how the diversity of native plants can help you create a comfortable environment and help the local ecology, wildlife, and lower your water usage.

One of the highlights of the visit though was running into a volunteer who worked the purple martin nests.  I didn't know much about Purple Martins to be sure, other than they were North America's largest swallow.  I learned that almost all of Purple Martin Nests, east of the Mississippi River, are man-made and that Martins began to live near people for protection.  Interestingly enough, People wanted martins close for protection as well.  Martins would eat dangerous bugs, chase away crows and ravens, and their "chatter" was believed to be a sacred part of nature by Native Americans.  The leader of the program showed how the nests were made and Martins tolerate human behavior.  He showed us some nests and we got some great views of the birds.  It was a marvelous program and the San Antonio Botanical Garden are being great stewards of their environment and local ecology and history!

The Purple Martin Houses
The nest!
Young Hatch-lings!
Martin-lets with pin Feathers
An Adult happy the nests were returned and cleaned out

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