The Christian Science Monitor

Human landlords, avian tenants: How purple martins survive

In the middle of a nondescript field of grass at the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, three large birdhouses balance improbably atop 12-foot metal poles. There’s no sign of the occupants, though, until a dark fleck appears from nowhere, swooping through the air and chirruping a sharp, sweet song. Suddenly, one becomes three becomes a dozen – until a small cloud of birds is circulating around the poles in an electric display of aerial maneuvering and operatic warbling.

The birds are purple martins, a large species of swallow with

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