Tuesday, October 5th – 10:00am EST
Larry Melcher, a.k.a. Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest’s Purple Martin Landlord, will be on the Martha Stewart Show Tuesday, October 5, spreading the good word about these beautiful birds – one of his great passions in life.
Melcher, who was recently featured in a New York Times article on purple martins, started and maintains a growing purple martin population at Bernheim. The birds are dependent on humans for nesting. “Man accidentally trained this migratory bird to seek out human-supplied nest sites,” says Melcher. “Rarely – almost never – have the birds been found nesting in natural occurring cavities. They depend on man to raise young.” Melcher, who has an obvious zeal and infectious enthusiasm about the birds, wants others to learn about this rewarding backyard hobby to help the species survive and grow.
After building a new home for his family in 1998, Melcher began his “backyard hobby” that has evolved into a grand expertise he enjoys sharing with people. He recalls, “I was around purple martins as a boy growing up. Dad had martins in our backyard since the early 70's and I now have that same house in my backyard.” Melcher’s father, who is often with his son to talk about martins at Bernheim during events, still enjoys purple martins at his own home.
Not long after his own martin colony got started, Melcher began working at Ford Motor Company, where he became known as “The Bird Guy.” “I quickly got tired of answering, ‘I don't know’ when asked about purple martins and armed myself with answers. I had to learn more so I could answer serious questions,” he recalls. Armed with his new knowledge, he approached Bernheim in 2004 and volunteered to start a colony. Where there were none, Melcher’s work has provided three colony sites, with dozens of martin families that return every year – and the population keeps expanding under Melcher’s tender care.
Melcher, who has spoken to bird clubs, posted “how- to” videos online and eagerly shares his knowledge with anyone who asks, was asked what it felt like to be going on the Martha Stewart Show, where he will build a nest with the domestic diva. He replied, “I am more nervous of saying the right thing on behalf of purple martins than I am of being on TV.” Larry, we think you will do just fine.