JERRY HALL DAILY RECORD COLUMNIST
EXPLORING NATURE: THIS N THAT
Let us consider purple martins, Galapagos tortoises and the Rio Grande Valley.
February marks the beginning of the return of purple martins to this area. These friendly swallows depend heavily on humans to provide housing and a place to raise a family.
Martins have specific space requirements and if you want to attract them, make sure you place your housing in the center of the largest green spot available. Choose a pole that telescopes or is equipped with a wench or rope and pulley.
Housing should preferably be white since that color attracts the birds and also reflects sunlight, keeping nests cooler. It is important entrance holes be the right size – a round hole of about 2 1/8 inches is preferred by martins.
Regarding Galapagos tortoises, the good news is these giant creatures are being reintroduced to various islands after almost going extinct. Raised at the tortoise research center in Santa Cruz, these creatures are being relocated to their home island of Espanola, replenishing a population and completing an amazing conservation success story.
Finally, the Rio Grande Valley is a birding hotspot during February. In addition to regular winter species, there’s always the chance for a vagrant bird that surprises everyone.
Just a few of the birds you might encounter are Chihuahuan raven, Aplomado falcon, red-crowned parrot, green parakeet, scaled quail, greater kiskadee, plain chachalaca, brown and green jays, ringed and green kingfishers and tropical kingbird.
If you are really lucky, you might see a red-billed pigeon, buff-bellied hummingbird, or gray hawk.
And it’s usually a lot warmer down there if you’d enjoy escaping winter for a while.