Ike Kumrow said there are three things anyone trying to
successfully attract and maintain a purple martin
population must keep in mind: "location, location and
finally, location." Kumrow and his wife, Jan, have
lived on their five-acre "little slice of
heaven," about nine miles north of West Bend for
nearly 55 years. But Ike has had an enthusiasm for purple
martins for even longer. Growing up on a farm, he saw many
of the birds and became passionate about them.
has almost 175 purple martins that fly and nest in their
backyard, the Daily News reported.
not by accident. The Kumrows have hosted purple martins
since they built their home in 1960 and during that time,
they've developed the property into a perfect purple
martin habitat. Ike's constructed martin homes and an
environment the birds return to every year. Martin homes
must be within 40 to 120 feet of a house so they feel safe
from predators, are in direct sunlight and are regularly
are one of North America's best-known and most desired
birds," Ike said. "I love them for their
graceful flight, the antics they perform, their gurgling
song and insect-eating habits." Purple martins
migrate between Wisconsin and Brazil.
a 4,400-mile trip," Ike said. "Usually about
mid-April is when you'll see the scout bird all the way
from Brazil. He'll check out the conditions to see if it's
OK for the rest of them to fly back to Wisconsin. They
usually fly back to Brazil in about mid-August. While they
are here, a typical pair will lay between four to five
eggs." Ike and Jan have passed their passion for
martins on to others. Ike was asked to build martin homes
for Pike Lake and Harrington Beach state parks.
Harrington Beach in 2013 there were only three martins. In
2014 there were six pairs and this year there are 11 pairs
with 45 having hatched," Ike said. "The martin
population is also growing at Pike Lake." Ike's
martin homes are built so he can crank a cable to lower
them close enough to the ground that he can regularly
check the condition of the nests and the birds.
purple martin flies near a house with a dragonfly in
it's mouth on July 9th over the property of Ike
Kumrow in Scott, Wis. Kumrow has almost 175 purple
martins that fly and nest in their backyard.
I check to see if there are mites or blow fly
larvae," Ike said. "They suck the blood from the
young. I clean it by rubbing alcohol under the
nests." When he inspects the homes made from gourds
he needs his wife's help.
hands are too big to reach in and bring out the
babies," Jan said.
I keep the notebooks and write down all the information
from each of the homes." The Kumrows have records
going back decades which show the date, time, number of
birds and eggs in the nest, and if any health problems
were discovered. They also inspect the martin homes to
make sure no starlings or sparrows have invaded and have
either produced their own eggs or are harming the martins.
Ike said if he finds any birds other than martins in the
homes he removes the eggs and disposes of them.
tending to the martin homes is a great way to spend some
of their time.
enjoy doing this with him," Jan said. "It keeps
us busy and we're able to do more than just spend time
watching television. I'd rather watch the birds than watch
television sometimes." Ike said the purple martin
population is on the decline and needs the public's help.
on the decline because they only usually raise one brood
and they have stiff competition now from starlings and
sparrows," Ike said. "They also rely on man-made
bird houses for egg laying and raising their brood."
Kumrow has also constructed homes for bluebirds, too.
Kumrows are members of the Wisconsin Purple Martin
Association which has a goal to increase the purple martin
population in the area.
is hosting Martinfest 2015 at the home of Greg and Deb
Zimmerman in Sheboygan Falls.
Kumrow holds what he believes to be a 10-day-old
baby purple martin on July 9th that was born in one
of the houses he built in his backyard in Scott,
Wis. Kumrow has almost 175 purple martins that fly
and nest in his backyard.