Topper's Blog: Purple Martins, Migration

4:56 PM, Mar 25, 2013   |    comments
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Back to Purple Martins

Griggsville, IL

Picking up where we left off in yesterday's column. As mentioned most purple martin house are now made of aluminum. Well that brings us to Griggsville, IL. and Mr. Wade.  Mr. Wade owned a factory that produced high quality television and FM antennas. (Yes, television has not always been in HD!) Griggsville was having quite the mosquito problem so the Griggsville Jaycees asked Mr. Wade to build some purple martin houses. The rest is, as they say history. They built towers of hundreds of purple martin houses. Believe it or not a helicopter was needed to lower the highest 'castles' on the top of a forty foot pole which was placed on the roof of a building in downtown Griggsville. Even back in the early 1960s Mr. Wade was concerned about pesticides and believed that attracting purple martins was the best way to control the mosquito problem downtown. The Griggsville experiment went unnoticed for a few years. By the mid 1960s other cities and towns embarked on a similar project. Towns and cities from Louisiana to New Brunswick began erecting purple martin houses. You can send away for an aluminum purple martin house that has anywhere from six to twelve apartments. They do require some patience and can take several hours to assemble but it can be a family project. I recommend you sink the pole in cement. Make sure the house comes with a lanyard so you can raise and lower the house easily.   

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