Cormorants perch above Purple Martin nesting boxes by Mike Lane

The western Purple Martin, Progne subis arboricola, is a Species At Risk in BC
and breeds along the Pacific Coast of North America from British Columbia to
California. In BC Purple Martins are only found along coastal areas of the Strait
of Georgia as far north as Campbell River, the historic northern extent of their
The first Purple Martins begin returning from South America to their BC nesting sites in April. Nesting starts in May
and in July the adult birds are kept busy feeding as many as five young per nest. By August the young are ready to
migrate south to Brazil with the adult birds where they spend the winter.
Due to the loss of natural nesting habitat, Purple Martins have become reliant on man made nest boxes such as
those found here at Gowlland-Tod Provincial Park. They used to nest in woodpecker cavities in tree snags in open forest or
along freshwater. Most of these snags have been lost due to logging, urbanization and fire prevention efforts.
In this photo, common cormorants use the pilings to perch and dry their wings. Their presence doesn't seem to affect the purple martins below.