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By Sandra Ebeling
I don’t know about all of you, but we have been blessed this season with an apartment house full of Purple Martins.
They are so very pleasant to watch and listen to.
They enjoy sitting on power lines and in tops of trees with dead limbs (which I have). They especially love it when Elsie and I are in the pool.
My house in just south a bit and they love to chatter and fly over checking us out. We watched Tuesday and one momma was busy feeding her babes.
She would fly around and go back with a beak full of bugs one time right after the other. Of course, I talk to them and so does Elsie. The love human interaction.
They have a long history of nesting in shelters provided by man. I have a 12-apartment house and three gourds.
In the past, they used hollowed gourds hung by Indians, and today, the species largely depend on Martin Houses. These birds have a strong homing instinct, usually always returning to the same spot year after year. They belong to the family of swallows.
They are the largest North American Swallow. They have speed and agility in flight and when approaching their nests. They dive from the sky towards the entrance at incredible speeds with their wings tucked.
They winter in South America, and migrate back to North America in the spring to breed. Spring migration is somewhat staggered, with arrivals in the south beginning in January, and showing up in Northern areas in May.
Purple Martins are aerial insectivores, meaning they catch their food on the wing. They usually fly high and catch various bugs, not always mosquitoes.
Like I said earlier, they are very verbal and love to chatter. If you don’t have a house or a place for a house, you should try it.
Of course, they like to be around a water source, and electric lines to perch on. They seldom if never land on the ground.
If you are thinking about housing, get it up and going, as it may take a bit to attract them. Keep your house closed to the public in the off months.
I cover my entrance holes in September, and take the covers off in March, as the males always arrive first.
One of my friends lines her cleaned next boxes with pine needles before they arrive.
This helps their nest and they love it. However, and whatever you choose to use for a house, you won’t be disappointed when you get your house established. They are a constant company and help keep the insects down. I am quite sure I had at least 11 families this year or more. They are certain entertainment.
Until next time, good birth watching.
Enjoy these last summer months.