Purple Martin nests get special care at South San High School

Construction crews work around birds' migration

17birds

SAN ANTONIO - Construction crews at South San High School have taken extra care over the last few months to work around some Purple Martin nests.

Dozens of the birds left earlier this month for the long journey to Brazil, but there were some stragglers that have yet to migrate south for the winter.

"We had one nest that was left," said John Henry, a Special Education support teacher at South San Antonio ISD who helps oversee the Purple Martin program. "All this we did was contingent upon the birds being able to finish their nesting so they would have a chance to have their babies fledge and go off with the adults."

The birds have called South San High School and eight other campuses in the district home for the last few years after the district won a Nike grant to build the homes.

"We use the Purple Martins as a thematic unit and we encourage our different disciplines to study the birds and get the students involved," Henry said. "[We] encourage the science teachers, art teachers, social studies teachers to use them for lessons while the birds are here."

Crews moved the nests last week to temporary homes near the main campus and will relocate them on the campus by January, just before the birds are expected to return. Henry said any birds returning to the old spot shouldn't have trouble finding the relocated homes.

"They can fly around as far north from San Antonio as far as Dallas looking, built into their nature, they look for future nesting sites," he said.

The district boards up the homes after the birds leave to prevent other birds like sparrows from moving in.

Purple Martins rely on man-made nests for shelter, a reliance Henry attributed to Native Americans who used to place hollowed-out gourds on the roofs of their dwellings.

To view a list of stories done by Charles Gonzalez, click here.


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