It’s easy to remember the clusters of hanging gourds on tall poles above the lawns and ponds of rural houses, welcoming Purple Martins.

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“Humans and Purple Martins are forever linked due to the removal of nesting habitat and the introduction of foreign competitors,” says Joe Seigrist, president of the Purple Martin Conservation Association, who works, nearly single-handedly to raise awareness about these once-welcomed birds and provide education to aspiring landlords. In this photo, children perform a nest check. “By providing houses for these birds at home or in public spaces, we act has the last lifeline between this insect-controlling species and extinction. To find out all the ways you can help, visit www.purplemartin.org/how-to-help ”