Thursday, March 30, 2006

Purple Martins Return

I went looking for Tree Swallows this evening on the way home from work and was pleasantly surprised to discover Purple Martins. I encountered them in western Jefferson County where Paynes Ford Road crosses Opequon Creek. A property owner there has erected at least a dozen gourd houses. I counted a minimum of 6 birds in the air at one time and later noted multiple birds fly to the gourd houses, land on them, and enter the cavities. My best guess is that a minimum of 10 martins were present. This is an established Purple Martin colony site, as I have encountered the birds here in previous years.

Interestingly, this is the first West Virginia sighting of Purple Martins reported on the WV-Bird listserv this spring. But there have been four previous sightings reported to the Purple Martin Conservation Association's Scout Arrival Study (listed here in chronological order):
March 6 in Peterstown, by Coy R. Nichols
March 13 in Letart, by Ron Wilkinson
March 14 in Ravenswood, by Beth Sook
March 20 in Vienna, by Steve Middleton
March 29 in Jane Lew, by Leslie Gallien
March 29 in Hurricane, by Earl Higginbotham
March 30 in Eleanore, by Ray Higginbotham
The known distribution of returning Purple Martins as of March 30, 2006, as reported by the PMCA, is shown above.


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