April 03, 2006

Purple martin's mosquito-less majesty

77 house finch
78 purple martin

It's amazing the house finch is no. 78 of the year—with a little effort, I could have seen one on Jan. 1. They're widepread in Columbia, but I never looked for them. In fact, I have no purple finch either, a fairly common urban feeder bird about to head to Canada.

If you're interested in building a purple martin colony or empire around your house, consult this for martin care and feeding. The site even debunks the mosquito-devouring myth mainly pushed by martin house manufacturers. In fact martins eat almost no mosquitos, not surprising considering the birds feed in the open during the day. Pursuing such small and protein-poor food would also waste valuable energy. A wise sentence in a 1968 paper from The Auk says "There is no need to ascribe to the martin abilities greater than those it already possesses in order to encourage its protection and propagation."


Anonymous Allison said...

No mosquitoes in over 500 stomach content surveys. This knocked me out of my chair. The false "security" of watching martins at sunset off the balcony in the deep south must have been completely psychosomatic. The mosquito myth has fueled (especially in the WNV panic years) the installation of so many houses, I'm certainly not telling any rural neighbors about this. Great blog.


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