Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Purple Martins

I was out walking around the yard and saw a bird leaving this nest that was built against the wall under the front porch.

It is really a magnificent construction project. I don't really like it there but can't really bring myself to remove it either.

It is sticks and mud and grass and formed into quit a sturdy little home.

I have no idea what bird made this thing but I am really doubtful that Purple Martins built it.

Actually I didn't realize the nest was being used until I watched the little bird fly away from it. Then I was kind of leery about checking any further because I didn't want to scare away the birds if there were eggs or young ones in the nest.

This next photo is as good as I could do with my digital camera for a close up. You can get an idea of the size of the bird by comparing it to the flood light bulbs.

The coloring is not very well presented in this photograph but it is a very dark blue or purple.

It really looks like a Purple Martin to me and we have quite a little bunch of them flying around here.

The thing that I find really confusing though is the nest. I've just never known a Purple Martin to use a nest like the one in the first picture.

Now here is an image I found on a Cornell Website that is much better and much closer. It is hard to tell from just the images but I am pretty sure that my birds are the same as this one which Cornell says is a sub-adult Purple Martin male.

The adult males are darker and I am pretty certain I have those, too. Mine may be a female though.

Martins are fabulous birds.

They eat and drink in the air. When they are eating they nearly stop or that's what it seems like. They also drink in flight which seems remarkable to me.

The thing that really amazes me is that they spend the winter in South America and then they fly all the way back here. They like to use the same nests year after year.

That Cornell article has a clip of their song, too.

I am really excited to have these Purple Martins here.


cornbread hell said...

the nest is downright amazing. i hope we find out if the martins made it.

i've never even thought about it before, but i guess in the wild they build their own.

Annie said...

The nest and your photo of the bird looks like a barn swallow to me. Does the bird have an orangish/yellowish underbelly? I have lots of these nests in the barns. Does it give you a royal chewing out everytime you walk by?

flintysooner said...

Purple Martins are swallows actually. I did learn that they will build nests out of "twigs, plant stems, mud, and grass."

They are really hard to photograph. I walked out this morning and there were a dozen flying over the driveway and around the house eating bugs like crazy. As soon as I walked out though they took off. I may try sitting in the car and see if I can get a better shot.

nancy said...

your post made me smile. my father-in-law used to love to watch purple martins. i'm glad you're enjoying them.