In March of last year, Brian Jessich of Boy Scout Troop 70 in Bee Cave completed his Eagle Project, which consisted of the construction of three purple martin houses and their installation in Bee Cave Central Park. The project was carried out by members of Troop 70, who completed the project over a week. Twenty-two Troop 70 Scouts worked a total of two-hundred and forty-three hours before the project was completed. The project doubled as Jessich’s Hornaday Project, which counts for the Hornaday Badge, a rare award representing efforts in conservation.
The purple martin is the largest species of swallow in North America. Martins are very beneficial birds, as they prey on disease-carrying mosquitoes and invasive fire ants. Their population in Bee Cave has dwindled in recent years, so Jessich’s project is aimed to encourage local Martin nesting by constructing specifically designed habitats.
Purple martins are social birds that like to nest around others of their own kind, which is reflected in Jessich’s house design. The houses have two layers, with eight compartments each, for a total of forty-eight compartments for martins to nest in. Because of the Texas weather, the houses were painted white to reflect heat and have openings in the roof for ventilation.
The three houses are situated in the park between two paths. Purple martins tend to enjoy nesting near people, because they associate human population with a lack of predators. This placement then is ideal for this purpose.
Jessich was advised by Andrew Balinsky, Chairman of the Hornsby Bend Committee of Travis Audubon and an expert on purple martins. His advice was much appreciated.