Posts Tagged ‘roost’

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 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

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.


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.


Blog Contents © 2009

Sad News

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

As you know, on Saturday I dropped off a HY purple martin that I found at the Davie Roost. The apparent trauma of a tree collision (?) the martin was unable to fly and seemed to be slightly uncoordinated. I brought him to the Folke Peterson Wildlife Center where he was given some medications and observed. Today I received bad news. Apparently after he failed a flight test, he had an X-ray taken and it was found that he has a crushed shoulder. Unable to be fixed surgically, he is doomed; and though calm and comfortable, his days are numbered. I am upset at the news and so looked forward to releasing him back at the roost to join his comrades. I am so sad to think that he will meet the same fate as those that were littering the floor. Another fallen martin, another statistical failure and another purple martin that will never fly across the Equator. I will tell you when his hour comes.

The colony remains busy in the morning but quiet as evening approaches and I am looking forward to going to the roost again. I have been unable to locate any raccoon repellent at the local Lowes, hardware store, feed store, Dicks sporting goods or Bass pro shop. The ideas I have received include moth balls, metal flashing, Vicks vapor rub, large cat (like lions and tiger) feces, traps and chaining a large dog to a tree under the colony. Unfortunately, I have been unable to come through on many of those ideas. The folks at one animal removal service told me that since the raccoons have discovered the richness of the roost, that a chemical/scent repellant will be useless.

Update on Injured Martin

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Good news on the HY purple martin! In yesterdays post I wrote about the injured martin I found laying upsidedown at the base of a tree at the purple martin roost. Last night I fed him some scrambled eggs and this morning I fed him some more eggs and about a dozen large flies I caught. Yes, can you imagine me catching flies to feed a bird? What purple martin landlords will do for these birds. The martin seemed in good condition but just didn’t want to fly so I had decided to bring him to Folke Peterson Wildlife Center.

Later in the day I called and Vered, the Certified Veterinary Technician at FPWC, told me that she also suspected head collision trauma. The bird had received some medication to decrease any swelling in the brain and if all goes well he may make it to Brazil yet! Hopefully he won’t get to close to that raccoon at the roost before he flies south. The question is now begging to be asked, What is head collision trauma and what should you know about it?

We called this type of injury “deceleration trauma” in my nursing days. This little purple martin probably flew into the tree at the roost or perhaps even another bird in flight, nothing could have prevented this accident. Fatal head trauma happens all the time, and most of it is completely preventable. Did you know that window collisions are the number 1 human related cause of death in birds. We are talking about estimates of 100 to 900 MILLION dead birds per year from flying into glass windows. has a great list of the top 13 human related causes of bird deaths and the info on this site is sobering. Check it out HERE. But what should one do when you find a victim of a window collision? Read this article by FLAP called Enhancing Recovery: Helping Bird Rescuers Help Birds .

Though there was no way to prevent this young martins collision, most of the human related collisions can be prevented. How can you protect birds from window collisions? Window Screens break up the reflection of the glass. Hanging any number of objects in front of window like old CD’s, ribbon, suncatchers, stickers or decals such as WindowAlert are a great help also.

I will keep you up to date on the little guy.

First Fledgelings Moving On

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

The first wave of fledglings has apparently moved on. After some 60 purple martins successfully fledged they had been returning (for the most part) every night to sleep. Today I noticed a much smaller group before sunset on the gourd racks and they took off as a unit to parts unknown. They did not return tonight. I have been noticing that the martins have been acting more and more flighty. Probably due to the high number of inexperienced youngsters that seem to be more nervous than their older more seasoned counterparts. As soon as I walk outside they fly off in a large group only to settle for a moment before flying off again. They actually seem to enjoy their new found freedom in the air and my heart lifts up with them every time they take off.

After Purple Martins fledge, the parents begin taking them to “assembly areas” where they roost at night. The birds eventually move to the premigratory roosts or staging areas which serve as a final stop over before the birds begin their migration to South America.

I must admit though, my sadness that this move away from “home”, makes me sad. The season is another step closer to being over in the south. Soon it will be time to visit the only premigratory roost I know of in Davie. Though a few more babies have been added to the count almost all the other nests are way to close to fledging to check. After those birds fledge my season will be basically over.

For those of you with new sites, or those that do not have a colony yet. NOW is the time to play dawnsong and keep your housing up. The youngsters are making the rounds and are visiting housing. If your housing is situated correctly and is attractive to the martins they will return. Remember that though my birds will return to my yard, the purple martins that fledged from my colony will mostly disburse to other locations.

A partial nest check is over due and I will try for either June 6 or this weekend to check the numbered rack and the aluminum house. As I mentioned there are too many nests approaching fledging age to check the lettered rack. After the problem with wet nests I am understandably nervous of what is in store.  but I know in my heart that I have done my part and next year I will again strive to do more.

Remember, I will be doing a Purple Martin Presentation at Folke Peterson Nature Center on Wednesday June 17 at 7 pm. I hope to see you there!

©2009 S.Halpin/

June 29, 2008 Roost Video

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

I said I was going to video tape the roost and by GOD I did. I am a woman of my word.

8 or so Martins visiting on the housing. Seems like small family groups. I have noticed that the fledglings seem to enter the compartments whereas the adults will only peer in. I took down the barn and gave it a quick cleaning. I will give it a more intensive cleaning perhaps tomorrow. It was pretty thick with filth. Ah, the things we do for love.

June 28, 2008 Davie Roost

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Last night I FINALLY made it to the premigratory roost in Davie Florida. I had the privilege of meeting Bryant Roberts, a knowledgeable and very nice gentleman who has made it his duty to monitor this roost site. He has done a fine service to birders and Purple Martin fans by bringing attention to this site. He has made it a thing for the town of Davie to be proud of. Unfortunately, I was about a week or so too late. I believe that our severe afternoon weather may have hastened the departure of the Martins. Mr. Roberts informed me that this year there was an estimate of over 10,000 birds and last night he estimated only about 500-600. Of course I did get to see those 600 or so martins swoop and circle like a funnel cloud, then disappear into the trees that they roost in. That was a beautiful sight. Like one large living breathing thing. I can only dream of what a site it would be to behold the roosts in Louisiana or Texas.

I did get a few minutes of tape that I may be able to edit into a few minutes of viewable footage. It was so dark when they finally came in and my video camera tried valiantly to capture it. My $900 Nikon D50 with telephoto lens was no match for the birds speed mixed with the darkness. Not a one of those pictures was useable. Oh well…

On a business note, I just received inventory of some fine Purple Martin Polymer Jewelry pieces. The Jewelry is made out of a ‘polymer’ or plastic clay that is baked to a hard ceramic-like form. I just had to buy myself one of the pendants. I’ll tell my husband that it is a consolation prize for ‘him’ making me miss my martins. tee hee!