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Purple Martins In February, Beacon College’s Anthrozoology department — perhaps channeling Motel 6 — left the light on for North America’s largest migratory swallows.  Backed by a $750 grant from the League of Environmental Educators in Florida, Beacon anthrozoology students erected the college’s first purple martins (Progne subis) colony.

Beacon anthrozoologist Dr. Brian Ogle noted the birds nest in North America, but winter in South America.

Purple martins are of interest to the anthrozoology program because of their unique relationship with humans, Ogle said. These birds nested in empty gourds hung up by Native Americans and now will nest exclusively in birdhouses near humans — with a preference for gourd-shaped dwellings. The Beacon colony was installed at Beacon Commons due to the proximity of people, natural areas, and available food sources.