Media Releases

New Hope Bird Alliance to Kick-off Year of the Aerial Insectivore

A ribbon cutting is scheduled for May 11 to celebrate these high-flying, insect eating birds, and highlight the threats they face.

DURHAM, NC—New Hope Bird Alliance (formerly New Hope Audubon Society) has declared 2024 the year of the aerial insectivore, as highlighted by new proclamations by the city and county of Durham that will promote the conservation of these high-flying, insect-eating bird species. Due to their dramatic declines over the last few decades, these birds need our attention.  

Aerial insectivores include swifts, swallows, martins, nightjars, and flycatchers. Studies estimate that birds in this group may catch up to 5,000 insects per bird per day, all on the wing. Their prey includes flies and mosquitos. 

As part of a larger calendar of activities highlighting aerial insectivores, the chapter will be hosting a ribbon cutting event for the installation of Purple Martin gourds at Sandy Creek at 9am on May 11, followed by a bird outing. In the eastern U.S., martins nest almost exslusively in human-made nest boxes. 

Primary drivers of the declines for aerial insectivores include pesticides, urbanization, conversion of habitat for agriculture, and climate change that reduces suitable habitat for overwintering, migrating, and breeding birds. These drivers pose a direct threat to birds as well as the insect populations they depend on.  

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, aerial insectivores have shown the highest percentage of species in decline of any bird type; 73 percent of species are in decline.  This represents a huge loss of birds that have a significant benefit to society by feeding on pest insect populations in agricultural and urban settings.  

The New Hope board also issued a resolution acknowledging Lights Out Durham, to help protect birds during Spring and Fall migration by turning off unnecessary outside lights from 10 pm until 6 am. This adds to the list of cities around North Carolina that have committed to going Lights Out for birds, which also helps save energy and money. 

There are many ways community members can get involved this year, including the event this Saturday, May 11. Read on for a list of actions and activities taking place this year. 

  • Purple Martin House Ribbon Cutting and Bird Outing, May 11, 2024 from 9-11am at Sandy Creek Park. Learn more. 
  • ​Showing Purple Haze Documentary: A Conservation Film about Purple Martins at Chelsea Theater, date and time TBD. 
  • Chimney Swift Counts will begin in September in Durham and Chapel Hill, more information to come. 
  • Chimney Swift Nights Out – to celebrate swifts – multiple locations in Durham and Chapel Hill this fall, locations and dates TBD. 

Please sign up for the email newsletter list and watch the calendar for event dates and times here 

Media Contact: Brittany Salmons,  

About Audubon North Carolina  

Audubon North Carolina, a state program of the National Audubon Society, has offices in Durham, Boone, Corolla, and Wilmington. Learn more at and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety. 

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