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Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Conservation Community Asks Public to Save Symphony Grounds, Urban Wildlife

Tennessee Wildlife FederationNashville, TN – In a campaign launched by Tennessee Wildlife Federation, nonprofits in the conservation community are calling on bird lovers and music lovers alike to help the region’s purple martins have an uninterrupted migration by making a donation in support of the Nashville Symphony’s downtown home at tnwf.org/purple

Donations will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $5,000, by Tennessee Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee.

An estimated 150,000 purple martins are roosting in the trees surrounding Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Nashville Symphony, as they gather before migrating to South America.

Purple Martin
Purple Martin

Lasting only two to four weeks, it is an awe-inspiring sight that draws locals and birders from throughout the region. 

This natural phenomenon also creates an expensive mess for the property owner. Like many nonprofits, the Symphony has been hit hard financially by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and needs a solution. The birds could be driven away cheaply, but that could greatly disrupt their migration. 

To save their migration and the Symphony grounds, conservation nonprofits are rallying donations. All proceeds will be given to the Nashville Symphony so it can leave the birds where they are and clean up the mess after they leave.

Please consider making a donation at tnwf.org/purple.

“We are profoundly thankful to Tennessee Wildlife Federation, as well as to The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups, for stepping in and helping raise funds to help us take care of the Schermerhorn. This will help us stay focused on the critical work of bringing back the musicians and staff who fulfill the Nashville Symphony’s mission of providing great music and education programs to the diverse population of Middle Tennessee,” said Alan D. Valentine, president and CEO of the Nashville Symphony.

Each year, the global population of purple martins gather at just 350 roosting sites to prepare for their winter migration to South America. 

“Most of the purple martin population no longer nests in natural cavities. The species only continues to exist because individuals invest in and maintain purple martin houses,” said Michael Butler, CEO of Tennessee Wildlife Federation. “When we saw what was happening downtown, it only seemed right to the Federation to share in the cost of their roosting site when it’s hurting a fellow nonprofit already impacted by the pandemic.”

One of those 350 purple martin roosting sites has long been in and around Nashville. The species is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“Our focus is on wildlife habitats and, sometimes, that habitat happens to be in downtown Nashville,” said Terry Cook, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. “A purple martin colony is typically around a dozen to two dozen birds. The purple martins roosting around the Schermerhorn represent 6,000 to 12,000 nesting colonies. All of these nesting colonies are a result of people erecting nest boxes or gourds specifically for martins. We’re proud to support these birds and the Symphony in this critical step of their migration. Without our care, purple martins don’t survive as a species.”

About Tennessee Wildlife Federation

Tennessee Wildlife Federation leads the conservation, sound management and wise use of Tennessee’s great outdoors. Since 1946, the Federation has spearheaded the development of the state’s wildlife policy, advanced landmark legislation on air and water quality and other conservation initiatives, helped restore numerous species, and introduced thousands of kids to the great outdoors.

To learn more, visit tnwf.org

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, TNC creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. Working in 79 countries and territories, TNC uses a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector and other partners in tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. 

About the Nashville Symphony

The GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony has earned an international reputation for its innovative programming, its commitment to promoting the music of America’s leading composers, and its commitment to creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive future for American orchestras. The Nashville Symphony has released more than 30 recordings on Naxos, which have received 24 GRAMMY® nominations and 13 GRAMMY® Awards, making it one of the most active recording orchestras in the country.

With more than 140 performances annually, the orchestra offers a broad range of classical, pops and jazz, and children’s concerts, while its extensive education and community engagement programs reach thousands of children and adults annually. A cornerstone of its education programming, the Accelerando initiative seeks to provide opportunities for young musicians of diverse ethnic backgrounds by providing intensive training, mentorship and college and career counseling.



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