Subject: Purple Martin Mania
Date: Aug 18 18:31:39 2002
From: Ruth Taylor - rutht at

Hi All:

Yesterday morning, I headed to Shilshole to check out Purple Martin
activity. I've visited a couple of the sites occasionally over the last few
years, have seen a few birds, thought they were pretty, think it is great
that folks are trying to re-establish them. But I have never seen much
At first, I thought they were nearly all gone, but a closer look showed a
few young birds and a couple of adult males in fine purple feathers. In a
few minutes, the activity picked up, as more birds flew in. Some stuffed
insects into the mouths of shivering-winged juveniles; some flittered around
with no purpose that I could discern, and others perched quietly. Then there
was about 15 minutes of non-stop activity, with birds swirling around and
around the pilings, taking short group flights, and returning to swirl
around again. They flew in beautiful light, and their melodious twittering
was a musical accompaniment to their beauty in flight. Most of the birds
then dispersed, but foraged nearby and flew back to the pilings frequently.
I was there for about an hour; I felt like it was the best hour of my entire
week. Now I understand why some people become *obsessed* with these birds!
I went back today, of course, which was a different scene. Wrapped in fleece
on a chilly morning with no sun, I didn't have the swirling activity, but I
did see a lot of foraging flights in the area, including some that were very
close. There appeared to be 2 young still left in one of the houses, and a
female flew in a few times with food. At least one (maybe both) of the young
seemed close to fledging - leaning way out through the entrance - with one
wing partially out. "Come on, come on", I silently encouraged. But there was
no fledging while I was there.
Thanks to Kevin Li for his post earlier in the week about activity at
Shilshole and at Jack Block.

Ruth Taylor
rutht at