MDC: Learn how to help purple martins at Cape Nature Center event

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) says people can learn how to help purple martins Thursday, March 17, at 6 p.m., at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center.

The hour-long program will present the history of the bond between martins and humans, best housing type and placement for the birds, steps people can take to ensure a colony returns and grows each year, along with new information learned about migration.

John Miller, a volunteer with the Purple Martin Conservation Association, is the guest speaker.

The Purple Martin Conservation Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of purple martins through scientific research, state of the art management techniques, and public education, with the end goal of increasing martin populations throughout North America. 

“John is a great resource for information on this important bird species and we’re pleased to host him for this event,” said Sara Turner, manager of the center.

Purple martins are the largest member of the swallow family in North America. Martins eat flying insects, which they catch in flight, which is why many people put purple martin houses near their homes to help control insect populations. Their diet is diverse, including dragonflies, damselflies, flies, midges, mayflies, Japanese beetles, June bugs, grasshoppers, cicadas, bees, wasps and flying ants. Since they feed in the day, martins are not, as is widely purported, consumers of mosquitoes.

This program is free, but registration is required by Tuesday, March 15. The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is located in Cape County Park North, off of Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau. For more information on scheduled nature programs at the center go online to To register for this or other programs, call the center at (573)290-5218.