Get nests ready, the martins are coming

OUTDOORS

March 27, 1994|By LONNY WEAVER

Margaret Woods of Riviera Beach tracked me down one evening last week and asked: "Do you think you could find some information about my favorite bird, the purple martin?"

The purple martin is a favorite of mine, too, and it just so happens that I'm looking around my lawn for a spot to put up a martin condo, so the inquiry was timely.

Louise Chambers, of the Purple Martin Conservation Association, was happy to share some information.

Purple martins are returning to the area now from their annual winter migration to Brazil. Anne Arundel County -- as well as most of the tidewater sections of the state -- is a favorite summer home of this iridescent-purplish bird.

Chambers said purple martins "are different from all other species of birds in that they no longer nest in the wild. Today, martins nest only in houses or gourds provided by humans and if it were not for humans, martin populations would collapse."

Originally, purple martins nested in old woodpecker cavities. Today, except for an extremely rare sighting, Chambers said, they no longer nest in the wild east of the Rocky Mountains and are the only known bird species totally dependent on humans for supplying nesting sites.

"But not everyone has the perfect habitat for attracting purple martins. They prefer housing that is placed at least 40 feet away from trees, but within 100 feet of a human dwelling. Once established, they will return to the same site year after year," Chambers said.

The Purple Martin Conservation Association was founded in 1986 and has more than 6,500 members. The association constantly is researching the bird.

For more information, write the association: PMCA, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, Pa. 16444.

Catch a rockfishing course

The spring rockfish (striped bass) season is barely a month away and promises to be great.

To learn the finer points of rockfishing from the best in the game, attend a daylong seminar on April 16.

The class, which is sponsored by Chesapeake College, located just east of the Bay Bridges at Wye Mills, will be taught by retired Baltimore Sun outdoor editor Bill Burton; noted outdoor writer and retired director of Maryland's Sportfishing Tournament Bill Perry and Keith Walters, author of two best-selling rockfishing books and a nationally recognized rockfish pro.

Tips, recent tackle and modern techniques will be discussed as they relate to both the spring and fall rockfish seasons. The speakers will discuss trolling, casting, surf and fly fishing plus the rigs you need to know as well as what live or cut bait to use.

To register for the course, which is titled "Catching Striped Bass," call Faye Lister of Chesapeake College's Continuing Education Office at (410) 822-5400.

Boat-safety classes

A boat-safety course is scheduled for April 19, 21, 26 and 28 at Annapolis High. Call Anita Murray at (410) 757-4848 to register or to obtain details.

Downs Park will play host to a course set for April 25, 27 and 29. To register, call (410) 222-6230.

Harrison Yacht, located at Kent Narrows, has a class on April 23. Pete Imirie at (410) 476-4692 has details.

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