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Manchester students feed, learn about purple martins

5/22/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

COVENTRY — Manchester Middle School students in Mark Yokum’s eighth-grade science class continued their studies on purple martins outdoors at the birds’ State Mill Road nesting site May 19.

The students were invited to help feed the birds by Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association founding member Larry Hunter, who also taught the students about the birds in class.

Shown at right bottom are some of the site’s gourds that house purple martins.

A purple martin is shown at right top fluttering close to its nest.

The lessons on purple martins included an essay contest on why the Portage Lakes area should be named the Purple Martin Capital of Ohio. That effort, House Bill 404, was approved by the Ohio House in early April and is currently before the Ohio Senate for consideration, according to Hunter.

Cecilia Speck was the winner of the essay contest and is pictured above reading her essay to other students, with state Rep. Marilyn Slaby (R-District 38) standing next to her. Speck has been invited to read her essay to the Ohio Senate May 28.

Hunter said he testified before Ohio House members that purple martins effectively control insect populations and significantly reduce the amount of pesticide spraying needed to control the mosquitoes that inhabit the area. He also said martins have been nesting in the Portage Lakes area for 40 years. The birds leave the area in late fall and return every spring, and the association helps to maintain nesting sites, feed the birds when necessary and educate the community about purple martins, he said.

Slaby is shown below flinging food, which consists of chicken eggs with some of the shell mixed in, to the purple martins.

— By Maria Lindsay

Photos: Dale Dong

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