Archive for the ‘Roosts’ Category

Gone to the Birds Festival at Shockoe Bottom, Virginia

Monday, August 8th, 2011

In another display of bird lovers coming out to witness the spectacle of a Purple Martin premigratory roost, Shockoe Bottom (by Richmond) in Virginia had their annual “Gone to the Birds” festival. Not the largest roost but still mighty impressive at an estimated 25,000, a cluster of Bradford pear trees served as the center piece for the 4th festival at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market in Shockoe Bottom. The celebration featured purple creations of all sorts, from purple snow cones to purple martinis for the grown ups. To read the article and see a video of the birds coming in to roost, click on the photo.

For more info on this yearly event you can go to the website at for their blog, news and more.

Its Purple Martin Roost Time At The Bridge

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Though the season here is done and I suspect our South Florida roosts are also done, up in North Carolina things are heating up. The William B. Umstead Bridge in Manns Harbor plays host to a huge purple martin premigratory roost. The Manns Harbor roost is swarming with martins at dusk. For about another month or two these birds will be roosting under the bridge in such large numbers that warning lights were installed to slow traffic as hundreds of birds were being struck and killed by cars at dawn and dusk.

As years past the Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society (CCPMS) will be having boat tours and for $30 a person you will be witness to a spectacle of nature. You can read about the tour on a previous blog post from last year or go straight to their website to contact for reservations at Purple Martin Roost Boat Tour Information.

Know of a roost near you? Make sure you visit it before they are gone.

(c) 2011 S.Halpin PurpleMartins-R-Us

Purple Martin Roost Rings on Radar

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Going to your local premigratory roosts are a great way to herald the end of summer. The spectacular swarms of purple martins, descending in on trees, weighing down their branches like a heavy burden as countless more rain down to jockey for a spot  for the night. It is an awe inspiring sight not easily forgotten.

What happens to all those birds in the morning though? Not many people hang around or get up early enough to watch the birds ascend to the sky come sunrise.  The National Weather Service and their Doppler Radars have documented this phenomenon for years since bird movements were discovered on radar back in the 1940’s. On the radar image here, you can see the red arrows pointing to these radar rings (also called doughnuts) formed by the mass of birds flying out and away from the roosting sites. According to the Purple Martin Conservation Association and their Project Martin Roost, more than 300 possible roosts occur in Eastern North America. The largest known roost, at Lake Murray in South Carolina has over 700,000 birds.

Kevin R. Russell and Sidney A. Gauthreaux, jr. did a wonderful study titled, Use of Weather Radar to Characterize Movements of Roosting Purple Martins, (back in 1998) that is an interesting read. You can also read what the National Weather Service has to say about it with their article titled Roosting Birds Detected on NWS Doppler Radar.

If you know of a roost consider visiting one before the martins are gone. You won’t regret it. If you can’t get to one you can always watch our video we took in 2009 of a local roost in Davie Florida here.

Purple Martins in North Carolina

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

An Winston-Salem Journalinteresting read, this article on the Winston-Salem Journal by Phil Dickinson and Ron Morris  (Bird’s Eye View Columnists) talks about purple martins in North Carolina and the spectacular migratory roost around the old U.S. 64 bridge over Croatan Sound between Manns Harbor and Manteo.

Check it out!

Published: August 7, 2010

Purple Martin Roosts

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Purple Martin roosts come in many shapes and sizes. There is no clear cut factor that makes a site roost material. The fact that huge numbers of purple martins gather and sleep over night is the only common thread.

Roosts can form under bridges, in trees or reed beds. You can find them in big cities or small towns, in bustling areas or in the middle of nowhere. They are sometimes well lit to keep predators at bay but can also be in the most secluded of areas.

The Purple Martin Conservation Association’s Project MartinRoost is dedicated to documenting roost locations and preserving them. You can look up roosts that have been reported in your area by visiting their Project MartinRoost Page.

joelevinsroostalabamaI found this interesting picture , posted with permission of the photographer (Joe Levins of Wetumpka, Alabama) of a colony site is being used for a small martin roost. It started around the first of June and has increased in number each day since. According to the landlord, Joe, last year they also roosted there, but did not start until after the first of July.

Southern Patriot

Southern Patriot

If you live in South Carolina and with an extra $27 dollars to spare, you can take a 2 1/2 hour cruise on The Southern Patriot” (that’s a 65 foot cruise boat) which will take you out to historic Bomb Island, where hundreds of thousands of Purple Martins roost on the largest Purple Martin sanctuary in North America. During the cruise you will hear narration about the Purple Martins and about the historic significance of how this island was used for bombing practice by Jimmy Doolittle prior to his raid on Tokyo during WWII. Don’t worry if you get thirsty as light refreshments are  served. Interested? Call the Lake Murray Marina in Ballentine, SC at: 803-749-8594

If you want to learn more about purple martin roosts you can also visit:

Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society (Manns Harbor Purple Martin Roost)

Tulsa Audubon Society

Purple Martin Season Is Over for 2010

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

SY maleIt’s official, the last of the nests have fledged and all the babies have taken to the air. A hawk was making daily visits and though I am sure (s)he got at least 2 fledglings, I am sure more fell victim. I was unable to get a good look so I am hoping it was the resident Red Shouldered Hawk, a slower and larger hawk that poses a formidable threat but less so than the smaller faster Coopers Hawk that are common in South Florida also.

The Red Shouldered hawks nest close by and protect this as their territory from other hawks. If that can be counted as protection…I am not too sure.

Night time is quiet and I am not sure if many martins are returning to the nests to roost at night. They may have moved on to a local assembly area or pre-migratory roost. The fact that I am talking about the roosts already almost sounds crazy! Can time have flown by so fast? I guess I will start planning another trip to the roost in Davie this year.  It has almost been exactly a year since I went to see it and video taped it. You can see it at my blog post titled Purple Martin Pre-Migratory Roost Spectacular. It is a great YouTube clip taken at the roost with swarms of purple martins.

The webcam will not be up again for the remainder of this year as the computer I had it running on is dead. I plan on replacing it as soon as I can and it will be up again next January. I promise.

©2010 / S.Halpin

Even At The Roosts, Martin Season is OVER…

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Hello Autumn!

It really is amazing how fast the year is going. All over reports of migration have been well underway and the quiet lull before the winter “storms” are upon us.  A few weeks ago I saw a large group of about 15 or so NightHawks pass through. The gourd racks have been still and quiet for months now. I am waiting for the arrival of the neighborhood winter visitors with the usual boredom that ensues at this time of year. As fast as all my nesting birds have left it takes a while before the winter visitors arrive and the time in between draws out, agonizingly slow.

What a great year it was. Looking at the calender, I find it hard to believe we are now in Autumn. All the roosts are done and the painful purple martin season that many had can now be called just a bad memory. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief as our losses could have always been worse and our successes are always a gift from God.

A very interesting find by Veronica G. a fellow PMCA forumite. At the Tulsa, Oklahoma roost she spotted a leucistic purple martin. Check out the fabulous photos taken by Omar Landeros. Talk about finding a needle in a hay stack!

These purple martins are absolutely stunning and though they are often times destined an early fate, sometimes they seem to adapt and be accepted.

Here is a link to a tragic story, back in 2007, of 2 albino purple martins that fledged at Mr. Steve Kroenke colony in Logansport, Louisiana.

Some landlords have had leucistic purple martins return year after year and I rejoice for them. I hope this beauty returns safe and sound to his or her home in the spring.

What is the difference between Albino and Leucistic? In short, an Albino lacks all pigment so that even the eyes appear pink, and beak and feet are “horn” colored. Leucistic birds have varying amounts of white feathers but still have the areas of “normal” pigmentation.

Will these leucistic birds have leucistic babies? Usually not. Being a recessive trait the offspring may inherit the recessive gene but not exhibit it. It will only show in the offspring if one of the parents is leucistic and the other parent carries the recessive gene for it.  Even then there is only a chance they will inherit the trait. Sometimes they only inherit the gene but appear normally colored. Cool, huh?

Many thanks to Veronica and Omar for the great pictures.

Roost Makes News

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

The Broward edition of the Miami Herald ran the story on the Davie roost today. You can read the article HERE.

We drove down to the roost and did not see any martins but we were a tad early so it is hard to say if the roost has, in fact disbanded. It is just about time for the birds to move out but I can not say for sure. My 2 kids were quite tired and I could not bare to have them sit in the car for another 30 minutes to see if the martins would show up. I will have to depend on any of you that may life closer to update me and the blog as to the roosts status.

The story was very nice and a special thank you to the journalist, Julie Levin, who was so patient waiting to see “my” purple martins. Remember, there are photos of the roost at my photo gallery and there is also a video of the roost that is quite nice.

The babies on the nestcam have officially all fledged and the gourd was empty for most of the day. They are sleeping in the gourd tonight though. Looking so big and grown up. Thankfully all the babies appear nice, fat and healthy. Unlike some issues that seem to be going on up North our temperatures, though hot are not too bad and the rain is enough to cool things down plus keep the bugs abundant.

Purple Martin Emergencies-New ONLINE info source!

Many northern landlords are having serious issues with very abnormal low temps and landlords are reporting nest failures and dead babies by the dozens. Early jumpers due to the extreme heat in Texas has been reported and supplemental feedings can save lives. For those with babies that need care, our parent site, has a page dedicated to Emergencies INCLUDING how to give food and fluids to purple martins, contact info for Wildlife Rehabilitators and more. Feel free to check this information out.


Purple Martin Pre-Migratory Roost Spectacular

Friday, June 26th, 2009

New Roost @ the Tower Shops in Davie

I finally made it to the new location of the Davie roost. The Tower Shops. I got there early, about 7:15 pm and thought instantly that I was going to have a problem. Unlike the old roost location at the Davie Road Racetrac gas station. This plaza was HUGE! A gigantic and busy strip mall with 4 big anchor stores, a Costco, Home Depot, several large restaurants, fast food joints and a Chevron gas station, all on one huge corner lot that had to be a mile wide.

A quick glance around and i saw a few token martins but more Starlings and Grackles than anything. I was meeting Julie Levin from the Sun-Sentinal and not only did i want to see a show, I wanted her to see it too. There is nothing more fun than sharing your OCD obsession with someone who hasn’t heard you talk about it before. Lord knows my poor husband is OVER birds at this point. By the time August comes around he can’t wait for me to take all the bird houses down and get back to being “normal”.

When 8 pm rolled around and all I saw was a few distant swirls of maybe 100 birds I thought I was going to be in for a huge let down but I was not to be disappointed…not tonight. By 8:25 I was surrounded by my birds. All over as far as the eye could see. The video camera does the scene no justice. For every 2 inches of sky you see with the camera, there is 180 degrees of more of the same. Thousands of birds twirl with distant dots of more birds behind them coming at you as if it were never going to stop. Almost as if God was pouring purple martins out of the sky and onto your lap. It was a true joy to watch and I could visit every night.

© 2009 S.Halpin /

The Davie Roost has MOVED!

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Apparently the raccoon predation was just too much for the purple martins at the Davie Road Racetrac gas station. They are no longer roosting at that site. I went on Friday night and the few purple martins that flew over head, never came down to the trees. The dead martins on the ground were still there, but no fresh kills. Apparently the roost was abandoned shortly after my visit on Saturday June 13.

Fortunately for all us purple martin lovers, a fellow PMCA forumite “Stingray” was shopping in the area and happened upon the new roost location. It is now located at the “Tower Shops” just South of 595 on the East side of University Drive, in the same plaza as Home Depot. The chances of finding the new roost location is almost a miracle in my book and the disappointment I felt this Friday is now replaced with excitement again. woo hoo! I can’t wait to go and see the new spot. I hope the folks at the Tower Shops greet the purple martins with the same welcome attitude that they enjoyed at Racetrac Gas station. The potential for a negative response is high considering there is no overhead cover to protect any shoppers from the rain of bird poop that they will be experiencing.

I have been ridiculously busy trying to prepare an article for you on emergency care of purple martins…I should say, first responder care of purple martins. I went to Folke Peterson Wildlife Center on Friday and met another one of their wonderful Veterinary Technicians, Faith, who let me photograph the HY purple martin while he was force fed. He is still not accepting food from the hemostats and his outlook is poor. Other than the fact that he is being force fed three times a day and can not fly, he appears calm and comfortable. A perfect gentleman.

Other interesting finds at the Wildlife Center was a Chimney Swift nestling that was brought in recently. Eyes shut and chattering loudly, the little nestling looked so out of place in his box. My heart bleeds for this little guy. For great information on Chimney Swifts and what you can do to help these birds visit  I was shocked to find out that contrary to what I had read on the swifts breeding range, South Florida, the West Palm area to be exact, has a nice little colony of swifts that live out my way. I am eager to convince my husband of the need to put up a Chimney Swift tower! I am so excited for this project for next year. Can you imagine THAT on a webcam?

Another interesting patient at Folke Peterson was a juvenile NightHawk. Which is quite the coincidence considering that I recently wrote a blog entry about these illusive birds that I NEVER thought I would see so close. Like a pet rock, it sat in its cage with its big eyes staring back at me. A curious bird and not very bird looking at all, up close. Faith told me of the odds against rehabilitating this bird and all birds that are strict aerial insectivores. A diet that is never fully able to be replicated, humans can only come up with a fair approximation of the dietary needs of such birds. I hope this one makes it too.


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