Purple Martins are returning! Follow their progress back. Visit Purple Martin Conservation Association Scout-Arrival Study
Author: Michael Levy
Thinking about Becoming a Purple Martin Landlord?
Are you thinking about becoming a Purple Martin Landlord? Please see the educational video by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Also, featured in the video is the Purple Martin pre-migratory roost in Austin, TX.
What is a Roost? In late summer after leaving the nesting colony, Purple Martins gather in large flocks to feed, socialize, and rest before migrating down to South America. … Martins also form winter roosts on their South American wintering grounds where they will often flock together with other martin species.
Where to Find a Roost?
Typically migratory roosts are found;
* in larger bodies of water—reed beds and dry islands with low thick brush provide sanctuary from predators and a micro-climate warmer and less windy than land
* in urban and suburban areas roots can be found in trees or man-made structures such as bridges and pipes
* winter roosts in South American can occur in urban settings—often in small parks and in the Amazon rainforest.
There are many migratory roosts scattered around North America and some can be very large. Some roosts may contain hundreds of thousands of martins. Many martin roosts are large enough to be detected by weather radar. Studies indicate that martins using a particular roost may come from a wide geographic area.
Individual martins may use a roost for several weeks before migrating, but the roost itself may last 8-12 weeks or more until all birds are gone. Once established, martin roost locations may be reused for many consecutive years.
Migratory and wintering roosts are critically important to the annual life cycle and ecology of Purple Martins. Roosts can be a spectacular sight with tens or even hundreds of thousands of birds descending at dusk. Visiting a roost is a unique experience, and roosts can provide community and conservation groups a focal point for environmental education programs, birding festivals, or ecotourism promotions.
How You Can Help: Project MartinRoost is a cooperative research project between the Purple Martin Conservation Association, its members, and bird enthusiasts everywhere, designed to protect and promote Purple Martin roosts in North and South America.
The first step in conserving Purple Martin roosts is documenting their occurrence. Radar images suggest that more than 350 migratory roosts occur in the eastern U.S. and Canada; however most of these locations are undocumented. Where exactly are these roost sites? How many exist in North and South America? Are there any issues with established roost sites? This is where you can help the most!
To read more about Project MartinRoost and get involved please visit Project MartinRoost.
World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was initiated in 2006 and is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. It has a global outreach and is an effective tool to help raise global awareness of the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need for international cooperation to conserve them.
Every year people around the world take action and organize public events such as bird festivals, education programmes, exhibitions and bird-watching excursions to celebrate WMBD. All these activities can also be undertaken at any time on the year because that countries or regions observing the peak of migrations at different times, but the main day for the international celebrations is 10 May.
Our next Marty Party: Saturday, May 12th | 9:30am-2:30pm
Bring your family out to The Summit 50+ Active Adult Center in Grand Prairie, TX. Celebrate with us doing pictures by the Purple Martin Conservatory Birdhouses, kids make and take crafts, entertainment, food and unique local vendors.
Grand Prairie, a city of 184,000 is located between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. This city has many unique attractions, among them a large flea market called Traders Village. As with any flea market, one can buy all manner of things, including a variety of birdhouses, most of them homemade. In 1981, Gisela Fregoe and her husband Richard had just moved to Grand Prairie and were visiting Traders Village.
Gisela came upon a man selling wooden, 12-compartment birdhouses, something she had never encountered before. She asked the vendor what kind of bird nests in such a birdhouse, and was told that there are birds in Texas that will come and search for just that kind of house. Gisela wanted to add birdhouses to her backyard garden so she purchased one and put it up the following day. A few days later her new house was inspected by some Purple Martins, and to her delight, they moved in and stayed the entire summer. Thus was born the love affair between Gisela Fregoe and Purple Martins, an affair all of us can identify with.
Gisela’s original martin house has since been replaced by two, more manageable, bi-level houses, each with four SuperGourds hung beneath them, and a rack of 12 SuperGourds. A collection of perches and a tray offering twigs, leaves, crushed eggshells and oyster shells completes the Fregoe Purple Martin colony. Gisela is a dedicated landlord, conducting nest checks, performing nest replacements and keeping meticulous records of her martin colony. But her interest in Purple Martins does not end with those in her backyard. She has thoroughly educated herself about Purple Martins, and has developed a passion for educating others, and enthusiastically promotes Purple Martins wherever she can. She has given numerous talks at garden clubs and other organizations. Many Purple Martin landlords in our area can attribute their initial interest in martins to Gisela Fregoe, including the Mayor of Grand Prairie.
Gisela’s devotion to Purple Martins, coupled with her seemingly endless energy, continues to advance their cause in this area. She works tirelessly with new landlords (including Grand Prairie Mayor Charles England), helping them to attract martins, and encouraging them to properly manage their colony once it becomes a reality. In 1999, Gisela felt there was “so much to learn to be a successful landlord”, so she fulfilled a dream by organizing a group of martin enthusiasts “to spread the word about this wonderful bird”. The group, Purple Martin Landlords of North Texas, began with 20 members and today has a membership of over 100 individuals, including PMCA’s 1995 Landlord of the Year, Dr. Tom Dellinger, and his wife Maria. Several members travel over an hour (one-way) to attend these monthly meetings. Each member pays $5.00 annual membership dues to help sustain the club’s activities.
Purple Martin Landlords of North Texas currently meets at 7:00 pm on the first Thursday of each month from January to July at the Betty Warmack Library in Grand Prairie. Each meeting begins with a business session, chaired by Gisela, the group’s president, followed by a program dealing with some aspect of Purple Martins and their management. A highlight of our 2002 program year occurred when Kathy Rogers of the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and Farm Sanctuary in Hutchins, Texas, (http://www.rogerswildlife.org/) took time out of her very busy schedule to come speak to us. Kathy has taken in several North Texas Purple Martins in need of rehabilitation, some of which have been returned to the wild, and at least one that will live out its days under the loving care of Kathy and her staff. The club’s last meeting of each year is a potluck dinner during which all members compare notes on the successes or failures of their respective colonies during the year. This year, many club members attended the Annual Lewisville Premigratory Roost dinner and roost-watch.
In May 2002, Gisela arranged for the club to have a booth at the Grand Prairie Mayfest. She, Carol Leach and myself answered questions and provided PMCA literature to many interested persons while the Purple Martin Dawnsong played in the background! Gisela and the club are currently working to establish Purple Martin colonies at Loyd Park on Joe Pool Lake (located in both Dallas and Grand Prairie), and at the Kirby Creek Park Natural Science Education Center in Grand Prairie. Additionally, Gisela has been in contact with the U.S. Postal Service and is working with them to have Purple Martins honored on a U.S. Postage Stamp. Petition sheets were circulated at Martinfest 2002 to include with the postage stamp application.
Another one of Gisela’s dreams was to establish a Purple Martin Day in the City of Grand Prairie. Richard Fregoe, a city councilman in Grand Prairie since 1994, inquired with the mayor about how to accomplish this. Louise Chambers provided a write up, which was condensed by Richard and submitted to the city. On July 2, 2002, Grand Prairie Mayor Charles England signed a proclamation declaring July 11, 2002 as Purple Martin Day in Grand Prairie (July 11 was picked to coincide with the club’s final meeting of the year). Mayor England presented the proclamation to Gisela (president), Jim McIntosh (vice president), Jeanne Streeter (treasurer), and Don Streeter in a brief ceremony during the July 2, 2002 City Council meeting. Councilman Fregoe presented the proclamation to the club at their final meeting on July 11th.
This story would not be complete without recognizing the efforts of Gisela’s husband, Richard. He has been a constant support to Gisela and our purple martin organization, working quietly and efficiently in the background to assure everything is in place for meetings and presentations.
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News from the President
First of all I like to thank all our PM landlords who answered my question about any early Martin arrival at their location. Appreciate your comments. Not too many reported having Martins and some had losses due to the cold and lack of food. Good news, I finally was greeted by several Purple Martins this morning at 7:30am. What a joy to hear their voices. I hope we are looking for better weather to come now. So I opened all my entrances on our 2 houses (only had 4 open) and I am going outside now to get the 12 S-Gourds ready and up the poles. This is a good morning to work on this project. Now I encourage all to open their Martin housing and I wish for a good Purple Martin season this year.
Many regards from Gisela.
End of Summer Update
Hi, I hope you all are still enjoying this late summer weather to catch up on gardening and cleaning your Martin housing for the next season. This is good time for that. Also remember pine straw is needed for the next season and can be collected from Slash Pine trees in East Texas. It is good to bring some extras to share with other landlords.
Looking back, It sure had been a very turbulent spring with lots of rain followed by high temps for a long time.
What Triggers a Migration?
I know that many members will be interested in finding out about
“What triggers a Migration”.
I found out a little bit about it and like to share it with you.
After the Purple Martin breeding season and after the parents have taught their offsprings “how to survive” tips and “how to catch their own insects” they all go their separate ways or can still hang around together a little longer until they all join the large Purple Martin pre-migratory roost in our Metroplex the City of Garland, Texas. The word goes out that this is a good place to assemble for their nightly roost.
We can never say what day and time exactly they will begin their migration south but the birds must receive a certain combination of meteorological and seasonal prompts that triggers their migration response.
I feel that it is shorter day length plus cooler nights that might trigger the birds migration gene which in turn causes the Purple Martins to get ready for their grueling flight all the way to South America and their final destination of Brazil.
There are many obstacles to overcome en route and we also know that many birds unfortunately will not be able to make it.
But we are confidant that most of our Purple Martins will be coming back to us in the month of February next year.
So, at our Saturday, 8th of August 2015 Garland, TX huge Purple Martin pre-migratory roost visit we all watched our birds one more time and wished them a “SAFE JOURNEY”.
To all our devoted PMLNT Landlords I like to thank you for being so caring for our wonderful Purple Martins in the ongoing preservation and conservation efforts. And that is what we, the PMLNT organization, are all about.
God bless you all for doing a great job. THANK YOU !!!
Checking in on the Migration
A note from Gisela,
I have several PMLNT members asking me how to detect our Garland Purple Martin pre-migratory roost and think this link below would be of help.
When the page opens there today at 7:00AM sunrise time, a round dark spot is appearing at the roost location in Garland Shiloh road Cinemark movie theater parking lot.
Check out the radar at: http://radar.weather.gov/Conus/southplains_loop.php
Today it is still visible not as large as we have seen it (8 of August) but it is still there. So this means the roost has not gone yet. The dark spot will eventually fan out towards Lake Ray Hubbard and then dissipate while the Martins are fanning out to feed at the surrounding location. I hope this will be of help.