Martins at the symphony

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Martins at the symphony
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Martins at the symphony
Anna Money, Lipscomb University

In 1996, Purple Martin pre-migratory roosts were first detected by NEXRAD approximately 40km northeast of Nashville, Tennessee. The roost location changed every few years, moving close to Nashville in 2003. In 2020 and 2021, over 150,000 martins roosted in the courtyard trees of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The waste produced by the martins and the cost of cleanup was unsustainable for the Symphony. In May of 2022, an agreement was made by the Nashville Symphony, the Metropolitan Government, the Nature Conservancy, the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps, and other concerned conservation and ornithology groups that the trees belonging to the Symphony would be cut down and non-harassment deterrents put in place to discourage roosting in the Metro-owned trees nearby. Every night during the June-August roosting season, all the nearby lights were turned off, crow gathering calls were played, a Harris Hawk and falconer were present, and attractants were put in place at another location. The project is ongoing, but the martins appear to have chosen a different roost location and their numbers continue to grow. The data being collected, and observations being made from this project are significant because there is much to learn about Purple Martin pre-migratory roosts, and because this situation presents a case study on the complex issues of urban human-animal interaction.

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