A video by Fort Langley resident Richard Donison captured the moment on May 24 when an errant log boom knocked down a bird habitat the end of Brae Island at Tavistock point. (Richard Donison/special to Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: The moment when a log boom destroyed a Langley bird habitat

Fort Langley resident says it happened 'very, very slowly'

Fort Langley resident Richard Donison was walking his dog near the river on May 24 when he heard the noise.

“I heard some large gunshot-type sounds,” Donison recalled.

A large log boom had come loose near the end of Brae Island at Tavistock point.

“I saw a whole mass of logs drifting downriver,” Donison told the Langley Advance Times.

Donison recorded the moment when the logs destroyed a Purple Martin habitat consisting of several handmade wooden homes attached to a piling.

In the video, birds can be seen flying around the piling, and cracking and groaning sounds can be heard as the habitat is forced over by the weight of the log boom.

“It got hung up on that piling and very, very slowly, brought it down,” Donison said.

Donison said tugboats arrived just in time to prevent the boom from also taking out some boat wharves in the same area.

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Installed in 2012 by Metro Vancouver staff and monitored by the Langley Field Naturalists (LFN), the wooden boxes in the piling were home to a small colony of nesting Purple Martin pairs.

LFN president Lisa Dreves said the boxes were part of a campaign to bring the Purple Martin back after the species lost almost all of their habitat to humans.

Dreves is hoping the the four breeding pairs in the demolished boxes will relocate to other, empty Purple Martin boxes that were installed on the south side of Bedford channel.

“The hope is that they didn’t lay any eggs.”

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Said to be the largest swallow in North America, Purple Martins are known for their speed, agility, and their characteristic mix of rapid flapping and gliding flight pattern.

In the past, they nested in snags near fresh or salt water, but adapted to changing circumstances by adopting specialised nesting niches in harbour pilings, as well as in crevices in buildings.

Without human intervention, in the form of artificial nestboxes, it’s believed the species would probably have been lost to British Columbia some time ago.

By 1994, all known nesting pairs in the province were using artificial nest-boxes, mainly built on pilings.

Is there more to the story? Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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Langley Advance Times