Conservationist Help Purple Martins make comeback to St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) – Dana Ripper gets into a rhythm when it comes to banding birds.

'That is a pretty cute creature right here,' says Dana Ripper the director of the Missouri River Bird Observatory.  'I think they look like little Muppets and I like they're little fat bellies.'

It's been a swell season for the swallows.
The moisture levels in our Midwestern region are perfect for these purple martins.

'They are your best one of your most ferocious insect eaters of all the birds in nature,' says Pat Lueders with St. Louis Audubon. 'They'll eat at least they're body weight and more everyday in insects.'

Today members of St. Louis Audubon and a collection of conservationists gathered to band these 14 day old birds that weight just 50 grams.

'So last year during the drought it was really tough,' says Ripper.  'We saw a lot of dehydrated low weight babies as opposed to this year where everyone is doing really good.'

You can't beat their Creve Coeur lake location.
These purple martins of Missouri are dependent on human provided housing.

'They're snow birds,' says Lueders.  'They go on vacation in the fall and that's because of course here in the winter we don't have insects for them to eat but down in Brazil they have quite a few.'

Although these lake side condos are cozy, the swallows are easily swayed by South America come august.

But they'll return to this river town wearing their new federal silver bands, and black and gold bands for Missouri.

Those will help conservationists track these tiny creatures.

'Where they go, how long they live, where they winter and summer,' says Lueders.  'That helps us as far as managing their habitats for our parks and our conservation areas for the birds.'

So it's true, there's no place like home, even if it's a sweet birdhouse home.

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