Purple Martin Scouts Have Arrived

Retta reports that the purple martin scouts have arrived in our area.  She has now spotted them and heard their calls twice in the past two weeks.  The scouts are here a little earlier than I had expected them, but now that they are here I had better get their housing in order.  Every fall, after the martins have left for their wintering grounds, I cover the nest rooms with plugs to keep out the “pest” birds.  When the scouts return, in advance of the main contingent of martins, I open the houses back up again.

Purple Martin 24 Unit Condo

Two seasons ago, Retta found an injured martin writhing around on the ground beneath the martin house.  She immediately removed the bird from harms way, and discovered that the martin had a broken leg.  Retta managed to fashion a cast for the bird’s leg out of masking tape.  But feeding the bird became a cause for concern.

Martins are exclusively aerial feeders, performing astounding maneuvers in the sky as they dart back and forth, swooping down upon their airborne prey.  Because of their feeding habits, it is not easy to replicate their diet.  Retta proved equal to the task, however.  With aquarium fish net in hand, she would go about the task of tracking down and catching all manner of insectivoria – including moths off the screen doors.

Purple Martin Food

It was quite amazing, really, to watch her feed this bird live insects with a tweezers, and even more surprising how much it took to satisfy the bird’s hunger.

Retta nurses this martin back to health

The martin was a female, so we naturally began to call her Mary Martin.  Eventually, the bird became healthy, and one day, while Retta was giving her some fresh air, she simply took off.  Fretful at first, we soon realized that she was going about her business in a normal manner, and was raising her own family.  She would fly close to Retta whenever she passed.  We think this was a sign of thanks from her to Retta.  We are very hopeful to see her back again this year.

9 thoughts on “Purple Martin Scouts Have Arrived

  1. At first, I read this as “Purple Martian Scouts”, thinking too much mountain air might be a bad thing. After re-reading, I realize too much city air is the likely cause of my reading troubles!

    Very nice story, and nice job Retta!

  2. pablo – It’s even a greater pleasure to have a wife who cares so much for the welfare of animals including purple MARTINS.

    MrC – You’re way off – the purple MARTIANS arrived last year – get with it!

    oldwhitelady – Thank you for your kind words.

  3. Pingback: Ranch Ramblins » Blog Archive » Non-Toxic Fly Control

  4. Pingback: Ranch Ramblins » Blog Archive » Purple Martin Housing Maintenance

  5. My Grandma would feed raw hamburger and egg every 3-4 hr to the young that fell out. Grandpa had 25 of the 24 hole houses, I have one he mod. to 36 hole (24+12).

  6. What a sweet story. I envy the country life…though I live on a couple of acres in a rural area, I think I was meant to be born a farmers daughter.
    About finding injured purple martins, The website http://www.PurpleMartins-R-Us.com has a few pages dedicated to what to do and what to feed, if you find an injured martin and even links to find area rehabilitators. Feel free to check out http://www.My Purple Martin Blog.com if you would like.

  7. I’m retired and would like to build a bird house can I please ask you how you get the birdhouse on the pole to go up and down to clean it.

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