Family and friends of the late Jim Boyd came out to a rededication the refurbished purple martin birdhouses he donated to Ellis Bird Farm. (Todd Colin Vaughan/Black Press Media)

Refurbished shelters a tribute to bird lover

Purple Martin birdhouse rededication highlights celebration

The rededication of birdhouses is just the start of activities at the Ellis Bird Farm as it prepares for its summer season.

The houses were donated by the late Jim Boyd, who developed a passion for purple martins, the largest variety of swallow in North America, after visting the nature conservancy at Pigeon Lake.

The birdhouses fell into disrepair, and so site services manager Myrna Pearman began looking for replacements for the shelters.

Boyd’s family, and friends of the Ellis Bird Farm, wanted to ensure the houses remained, and a decision was made to refurbish them and rededicate them.

“They have been renovated and we are going to celebrate with the family of the man who donated them to us,” Pearman said the rededication.

The celebration comes after a spring of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The site is now open, although the cafe will remain closed for the summer.

“We are hosting quite a few events,” said Pearman.

“They are small events and we are hoping to add a few more family events, because we are seeing people really love coming out here.

“It is wonderful, because we are a big enough site and people can keep distant, while enjoying the nooks and crannies.

“And because of the rain, the gardens are spectacular. It is a wonderful place close to home where people can come out and enjoy,” she said, adding the farm has welcomed many guests from Edmonton and Calgary.

Pearman said there are a lot of plans for the season, including a continuation of the Knee-high Nature Program and the introduction of Butterflies with Ben and the Birds in Flight Photography Day.

Purple martins and bluebirds appear to be coming back in similar numbers to last year, and Pearman said the farm is working to keep track of the insect populations.

“We are doing a lot of research this summer — that is the exciting thing,” she said.

“We are doing insect inventories with Dr. Delano Lewis from Burman University. And we have a summer student here who is working on her undergraduate thesis. She is looking at fitness of bluebird nestlings compared to adults.

“We also have a new scientific adviser who is looking at our past data. She is looking at publishing papers using the amazing data we have collected.”



todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

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