As Fall nears, we’re saying our seasonal goodbye to the thriving purple martin colony that calls our Salem headquarters home. For over 30 years, Mannington has provided housing near our Salem flooring plant (located in one of New Jersey’s largest tidal wetlands regions) to encourage these graceful birds to summer in Salem when they migrate north. In return, the purple martins have feasted on millions of insects that could, otherwise, damage our flooring during production by getting trapped in its wearlayer. Simple yet innovative, Mannington’s “Purple Martin Project” is both eco-friendly and educational for our associates who volunteer to help watch over the birds during their stay.
Since 2001, Mannington’s Salem associates have assisted Dave Kitts, our Vice President of Environment, in tracking migratory pathways and monitoring the Salem site purple martin population.
A pulley system makes sky-high clusters of gourd-carved bird houses (elevated on tall poles to protect the purple martins from predators) easily accessible to the bird caretakers.
The pulleys allow the caretakers to gently lower and then raise the houses without startling the birds.
They, then, can quietly peer inside the houses to check on the health of each inhabitant and do an egg and head count.
During a recent check, our associates discreetly snapped pics of these two nests of baby birds and adults. In total, they counted 83 nests (out of 96 gourds) with 339 chicks.
As Mannington’s “Purple Martin Project” has grown, more birds and associates continue to flock to it. Associates now volunteer not only individually, but by department, too (in this photo are Rachel Flickinger, Danielle Jensen, Lori Keith, Allison Bromwell, Kelly Plummer and LeighAnn VonHolle from residential marketing).
“We’re delighted that the Salem purple martin colony has grown to be one of the largest in the region and that we partner with the New Jersey Audubon Society to help demonstrate our commitment to wildlife habitat enhancement and ecological stewardship,” says Dave Kitts. “These beautiful birds help Mannington fly high with an eco-friendly project that’s destined to make a difference for years to come. We think that’s something to chirp about.”