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PAGE17MAZINAIGANFALL2014PURPLEMARTINMilleLacsReservationMinn.TheMilleLacsDepartmentofNaturalResourcesandEnvironmentMLNREisembarkingonitsthirdyearofpurplemartinresearchthisyearusingGPStrackingonthebirdstogetmorefinitereadingsonmigrationlocations.InpartnershipwithYorkUniversityTorontoCanadatheMilleLacsBandhasbeenworkingtoidentifytheprecisemigrationpatternsofpurplemartinsandpossiblyidentifyatwhatpointthebirdsarerunningintoproblems.Intheprevioustwoyearsoftrackingresearchersusedgeo-locatorsthatrelyonlightlevelstoindicatewhereabirdisonthemap.Accuracywiththegeo-locatorsiswithin50milesaccordingtoKellyApplegateMilleLacsFishandWildlifebiologistwhereasthenewGPSunitswilltrackthebirdwithin30feetofthebirdslocationgivingresearchersamuchmorepreciseideaofthebirdspath.Thisisground-breakingscienceexplainsApplegate.ThisisafirstusingGPStotrackthesebirds.Thepurplemartinhasevolvedtobetotallydependentonmanforitshabitatwithitsnaturalnestinggroundssuchaswoodysnagsmostlycleanedout.Thisisonereasonwhyfolksinterestedinthesurvivalofthepurplemartinputuppurplemartincondominiumsfornestingpurposesandencourageotherlandlordstodosoaswell.ThePurpleMartinConservationAssociationprovidesgreatadviceandsupportfornewmartinlandlordstohelpthemalong.ManytimesthecondossimulateadriedgourdbecausemartinsfirstadaptedtheirnestingsitestogourdshungouttodrybyNativepeopleinthesoutheast.ThepeoplewelcomedthebirdswhowerenotonlyentertainingtowatchbutalsoassistedwithinsectcontrolandoftenwardedoffpredatorsthatmightbeeyeinggardengoodiesApplegaterelates.Themartinsareveryprotectiveoftheirhomeareaandtheybomb-diveintruders.TheMilleLacsreservationhostsmultiplepurplemartincondosandtheareaseemstobesupportingahealthynestingpopulationofpurplemartins.HoweverinthelargerpicturethenumbersintheGreatLakesregionhavedecreased80since1965hesaysgivingreasonforconcern.ThissummertheMilleLacsBandwilloutfit23purplemartinswithtinyGPSlocatorswornasminibackpackstoavoidanyconflictwithwingmovementaccordingtoJeffMauwildlifeinternfromBemidjiStateUniversity.ThroughoutthesummerMauhasassistedApplegateinthecapturetaggingandGPSoutfittingofthepurplemartinatseveralsitesmaintainedbytheBand.OneofthecondoslocatedattheKathioStateParkisriggedsothecondocanbeloweredforeasyaccess.Thisdoneasmallcardboarddoorcontrolledbyathinfishinglineissetintothecondounitusedbythemartinselectedfortagging.Thenitsawaitinggamewait-ingforthebirdtoenteritsnestingbox.Oncethathappensagentletugonthefishinglinebringsthecardboarddoorintoplaceandthebirdcannotexit.Afterthatitsamatterofunlatchingthehookthatopensthefaceofeachcondoandgentlysnatchingthebird.Thenextprocessisslowandcareful.DataisrecordedoneachbirdincludingwingandtailmeasurementsexageandweightpriortolegbandsbeinginstalledforidentificationandfinallythetinyGPSunitputinplaceandgentlysecured.DotsofSuperGluearecarefullyplacedontopoftheknotsontheGPSunittie-downinordertopreventthemfromcomingundone.Priortobeingappliedthelegbandsarealsoturnedbrightpinkwithnailpolishtomakethemmorevisibletoobservers.Threatstothepurplemartinaremultiple.BesideslackofsuitablenestinghabitatApplegatecitescoldweatherandexcessiverainthatdepletetheinsectsmartinsfeedoninvasivespeciesliketheEnglishsparroworEuropeanstarlingswhotakeovernestingsitesandfinallyexplosionsofnestparasitesthatcansickenandkillfledgingbirds.Themartincondosmain-tainedbytheMilleLacsBandarewellmaintainedwithnest-ingareascleanedperiodicallytoremovedebrisandespeciallyparasitesfromthenests.Apurplemartincondomin-iumisahubofbirdactivity.Eachbirdseemstoknowwhichunitisitsowneventhoughtheyalllookthesame.Withaboutfourorfivegrowinghungrybabiesinsidemomandpopmartinarebusycarryingfreshlycaughtfoodtothewaitingfamilysothereareconstantdeparturesandarrivalsmuchlikeabusyairportterminal.MartinhabitatextendsfromCanadasouthasfarasFloridaandTexasandfromtheMidwesteasttothecoast.OnebirdwastrackedmigratingasfarsouthasBolivaaccordingtoApplegateandtrackersalsoobservedamigratingmartinavoidahurricanethatwasarrivingintheGulf.Formoreinformationonthepurplemartinorifinterestedinbecomingamartinlandlordgothewww.purplemartin.orgthewebsiteforthePurpleMartinConservationAssociation.Useofground-breakingscienceatMilleLacsAimstohelpbineshiinhyagbirdsatriskBySueEricksonStaffWriterApurplemartincondoatKathioStateParkOnamiaMinnesotahousesabout14martinfamilies.Thestructureisriggedtobeloweredforpurposesofcheckingandcleaningnestsandresearchactivities.AhealthypatchofchickswastypicalofthisyearsbreedingseasonintheMilleLacsarea.KellyApplegateMilleLacsshandwildlifebiologistandinternJeffMowepreparetoinstallalegbandandGPSunitonacapturedmartin.PhotosbySueEricksonBiologistKellyApplegatecarefullyinstallsalegbandonapurplemartin.Thebandhasbeenpaintedbrightpinksoitcanbeseeneasily.TakingafeatherclipforDNAanalysis.OncetheunitisinstalledonthebirdmuchlikeaminibackpackdotsofSuperGlueareusedtosecuretheknot.InsetAtinyGPSunitreadyforinstallationonapurplemartin.