The Bartramian Audubon Society held its annual Conservator Awards Night on May 13 at Jennings Environmental Education Center, Brady Township.

Dean Kildoo of Grove City received an award for Sustainable Conservation by an Individual for serving as benefactor of the purple martin for nearly 50 years. Dr. Gene Wilhelm presented the award, according to a news release.

The purple martin is the largest swallow that nests in human-made houses and gourds in western Pennsylvania.

It can be difficult to have the birds establish a new breeding colony, but Kildoo gave it a try after George English gave him plans for a purple martin house.

In 1970, Kildoo built a house with 10 rooms; two martins lived there in the first year. In 2002, 75 martin pairs produced a record 298 banded fledglings. Nineteen adults died after a deep freeze in May.

To keep the other adult martins from dying, Kildoo scrambled 23 chicken eggs and placed the food in each occupied unit. That saved the colony, resulting in about four fledglings per adult pair.

Kildoo added more houses and gourds, and 2012 was the only year that all rooms were occupied by 93 martin pairs.

He also took measures to prevent martins from being killed by motor vehicles; he still has a sign on his property that identifies it is a purple martin sanctuary.

It’s estimated that Kildoo’s work has produced at least 15,465 eggs, 13,570 hatched martins, and 14,035 fledgelings.

Bartramian Audubon Society is the chapter of the National Audubon Society serving Butler, Lawrence, Mercer, and Venango counties.

Recommended for you