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Save Ottawa's Purple Martins

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TLDR: Purple martins are an underappreciated species of birds in Ottawa that need our help. As of now, the proceeds from this project will go towards building a new purple martin house in Ottawa. We plan to do a lot more in the future but one little change could make a big difference and help Ottawa's purple martins thrive in our community.
The Story behind the project:
In the middle of September 2017, I was 11 years old when I rode down the Kichi Sibi  (was known as the SJAM)  path and saw my first roost of a purple martin. A few years later (when I was 13), I went on the same bike ride and was excited to see the purple martins, once again. However, there seemed to be a lot less birds that year, when the younger version of myself thought there would be more. It was not until the next day that I realized that purple martins were rapidly declining around the world. I did some more research and found out that these birds were not doing well for themselves in our environment. The first thing that came to mind was wondering how I could help, but at that time, there weren't as many purple martin houses, and there wasn't a way to directly support my community. It was not until the following year, in 2018, that the National Capital Commission offered the Champlain Park community to take care of a purple martin house. In other words, a way to directly help these birds live in the unfavourable conditions that we have given them. For the next three years, I would do some routine check-ups on the nest, making sure everything went to plan until now.
Now I have built a website that will help others in the community get involved in helping these birds thrive. Purple martins, from my experience, are not a very well-known species of birds, especially in the younger generation. Hence, this website aims to inform our community with a modern-looking website with concise and precise information. From here, Ottawans can fund or participate with ease to a closer touching cause directly without looking much farther. Last but not least, I aim to get the community as one, so we can all add our efforts together to make a more significant difference in helping purple martins, a species that is very dear to me and should be for others as well.

Here are some other reasons why I decided to make a website:
The closest thing to a purple martin community in Ottawa would be at the Ontario Purple Martin Association. They have undoubtedly already helped communities around Ontario a lot, but a well-known fact is that people are more likely to donate to a cause closer to them. Hence, donating to keep alive a bird you have never heard of across all of Ontario does not seem too appealing to many. Even at that, there is not an option to donate to the O.P.M.A.. Thus, with this website and movement, we can make supporting these birds more accessible than ever. 
Ottawa is known for a lot of things, such as the parliament, the Kichi Sibi trail, etc. Why not make it known for its purple martin population? More tourists could, without a doubt, help many local businesses in Ottawa and drive our economy up.
This movement would bring more Ottawans together after a challenging pandemic, where we most likely separated and lost contact with many people around us. Thus, we could all more closely knit our community with a similar interest.
Threats to Purple Martins:
Since most subspecies of the purple martin are completely dependent on humans, from their nesting to sometimes even food supplies, their nests have to be protected from other, more aggressive species that are known to take them over such as the European starlings. They are the purple martin’s main competitor since they are both cavity nesters. However, both species are very aggressive ; hence they will fight to the death for the nesting site, and that is the main downfall for the purple martins who will most of the time lose these fights, resulting in the death of all purple martins in that nesting site. Thus, unmonitored purple martin houses are often overtaken by more aggressive, non-native species.
Another very important factor to the decline of purple martins is the nesting habitat loss. This form of habitat loss is mostly due to deforestation. Not only does cutting down trees increase the effects and speed of climate change, but by industrializing forests, we are effectively destroying hundreds of nests a week all around the world. Also, deforestation completely wipes out whole ecosystems, hence the species will have to move away from their original habitat that offered them shelter, food, and water ; into open fields or other areas in new forests where they will be more vulnerable to predators.
Furthermore, they have an ever lowering prey population. With the introduction of insecticides in the late 1940s, the population of many insects, notably bees, have been dropping almost exponentially. With that said, the pesticides are effectively killing bugs that could have been eaten by the purple martins. Even if they are eaten by the birds, this would be worse for the bird compared to if it hadn’t consumed it since it would start a chain of bioaccumulation. This is when a prey with toxins in it is eaten by a predator, and overtime after eating a large amount of toxic prey, the predator may die due to poisoning. Hence, bioaccumulation and a lack of prey are two large reasons as to why the purple martins’ numbers are lowering.
How there disappearance will affect us:
Purple martins’ main use for humans is to control destructive insects. These insects have proven themselves to either be destructive for structures ranging from fire ants to termites (who combined cause over 5$ billion worth of damage to structures in the United States alone). Hence, having purple martins would help reduce the amount of material humans need to sustain nature's damage by better controlling it, and by doing so, the air will be less polluted by avoiding extra manufacturing of those products (and the emissions that come with it). Consequently, the demand for these products will most likely lower making them more affordable to the population.
Purple martins are also essential to protect crops from moths, caterpillar beetles, etc. In fact, last year alone, Canada managed to lose north of 1.4 billion dollars worth of produce; most of that loss came from insects destroying plants (Canada, 2000). Similar to the consequences of damaged infrastructure mentioned above, if farmers can lose fewer crops, they would then be able to sell them at a lower price and make more profit at the same time. Additionally, farmers will consequently use fewer pesticides to protect their crops from a lower number of bugs. Moreover, there will be less pollution due to insecticides and their manufacturing. On top of that, the effects of bioaccumulation are directly proportional to the number of pesticides used. Thus there will be fewer toxins floating around the environment. Hence, the economy, the cleaner environment and the consumers will all greatly benefit from lower pesticide use, lower prices and less pollution in the agricultural industry.
Why fund this Project:
Purple Martins have fascinated human beings since 900 A.D. and over centuries they have finally learnt to trust humans with their lives and well being ; it is not the time to let them down. The real question as a reader, and as someone who isn’t part of a major organization, is what can they do to help.

Organizer and beneficiary

Slater Wiles
Ottawa, ON
Slater Wiles

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